Mass Effect 2 vs Dragon Age: Origins

Posted on 19th Dec 2010 at 11:28 by Clive Webster with 60 comments

Clive Webster
It’s curious that two similar games from the same games studio differ so much in how enjoyable they both are. While Mass Effect 2 feels fresh and vivid, Dragon Age feels dull, clichéd and derivative. That’s quite an achievement, considering that both games are set in unique worlds and both have essentially the same plot. What’s so wrong with Dragon Age to provoke such a reaction?

To me, almost everything that could be wrong with Dragon Age is, barring catastrophic failure. The graphics look poor, with basic and blocky geometry, low-res textures and too much shininess. While ME2 shares some of these characteristics, it’s less noticeable – sci-fi clothing is meant to be shiny and robots and machinery are meant to be blocky in shape.

The gameplay of Dragon Age falls into the tired format of slogging through lengthy dungeons. I found myself wondering what on Earth I was actually doing at numerous points in each mission, and the only answer I could come up with was ‘it’s a dungeon, crawl through it till you get to the boss at the end.’ This meant the game comprised of slogging across the world, fighting irritating bandits along the way, and then slogging through a dungeon full of the same kind of enemy. Thrilling...

Meanwhile, the missions of ME2 felt more fun and were more varied – the siege of Archangel had different sections that encourage different ways of playing, while Jack’s rescue was a full-on firefight, while Tali’s loyalty mission had a great sense of dread about it. All these missions had a tight focus and felt compelling to play. It’s no coincidence that ME2 is the only game I’ve ever started replaying as soon as I’d finished it (in fact, it’s one of the games I had any interest in re-playing at all).

Even the tone of Dragon Age left me underwhelmed – the buckets of blood that was thrown over everything in sight, and the supposedly tough moral choices. I felt no remorse at killing a demon-infested child, but felt the need to think much more about decisions I made ME2 as I actually cared whether or not I closed off missions or friendships with the characters (even if this is fairly hard, in reality).

It’s baffling that Ferelden felt so tired when the galaxy of ME2 feels so fresh and interesting, but if you’re going to use the same old stereotypes (Dwarves are miners, Elves are fey and aloof and so on) and only mix in some generic ideas of world cataclysm, that’s the inevitable result. A hodgepodge of the blandest parts of Robert Jordan and Tolkien is hardly the way to go for a brand new game world; I’d like to recommend that the next time Bioware looks to do a fantasy game it puts Steven Erikson, George R.R. Martin and Glen Cook on the required reading list before writing a word.


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TheUn4seen 19th December 2010, 11:50 Quote
The problem with Dragon Age was that, well, it was a fantasy game. The whole D&D genre is so worn out and predictable that it's very hard to think of something new, and DA:O certainly wasn't innovative. ME2 was good by default, simply because of the lack of good sci-fi games in the last few years. It wasn't overwhelming though, had good moments but on the whole it was like a mainstream movie - attempting to be deep and meaningful, but in a dumbed-down, american way.
Paddy 19th December 2010, 11:55 Quote
I have to say I felt the complete opposite with regard to ME2 and Dragon Age.

I just finished Mass Effect 2 this weekend and feel no inkling to play it through again. I thought quite a few missions were a simple tiresome slog to get through and the collection of minerals for the upgrades was a dull waste of time adding nothing extra to the game. Dragon Age on the other hand I enjoyed every minute, the story, the setting, the inventory system, the characters etc I thought were far superior in every way to ME2. The second I finished Dragon Age (after 75 or so hours) I immediately started a new character.

I've mentioned this before, but the Mass Effect story line reminds me so much of Babylon 5 (even the collector Harbinger looks like the shadows) that I didn't think it was particularly new or novel.

This is my opinion and I'm sure most people here will disagree, but overall I was very disappointed with Mass Effect and was blown away by Dragon Age!
Yslen 19th December 2010, 12:12 Quote
I saw Dragon Age as a modernised classic, bringing together many familiar elements from the fantasy genre and combining them in one game with a few small but important twists.

Yes, I've seen Elves living in a forest before, but I can't remember ever having such an in-depth conversation with one before I played Dragon Age. There's nothing wrong with revisiting a familiar setting and exploring it in greater depth than has ever been done before, as Bioware did here.

The Elves in Dragon Age travelled through forests as nomads not because it was their traditional home, but because of racial tensions between them and Ferelden's far more numerous humans. The mages were not all-powerful rulers of the world but virtual prisoners, under the oppression of a militarised religious organisation.

The world Bioware created for players to explore might sound done to death on first description, but in fact it I find it to be more refreshing than any "we're making great efforts to avoid copying Tolkien" fantasy world I've ever experienced.

In fact, I would go as far to say that amongst all the tributes to the work of Robert Jordan included in this game, this is the greatest of them: the re-working of classic material into something that feels both familiar and completely new at the same time.

If you found yourself unable to remember what had brought you to a location in the game in the first place and completely emotionally removed from the act of murdering an innocent child I suspect that you broke the golden rule of playing RPGs. It's a Role Playing Game; you have to give something back. If you're not "in character" as you play, you're missing the point and more than likely letting the game wash over you rather than drinking it in as the writers intended.
loftie 19th December 2010, 12:15 Quote
Lets face is, ME2 was awesome as proven by this ^^
MiNiMaL_FuSS 19th December 2010, 12:25 Quote
ME1 was better than ME2 - the scanning game almost stopped me playing, so so poorly done.

But both ME's overall were brilliant games - but they were very similar to the KOTOR mold, and KOTOR games were better and more original.

But i have to say I felt more immersed in Dragon Age, yes ME was probably the better game to pick up and play, but Dragon age had sooo much going on with NPC's and characters, the game was very very in-depth in that sense and humerous and just very well done.
Fizzl 19th December 2010, 12:30 Quote
What bugged me the most about DA:O was a lot of the game mechanics felt broken (or at least not how I imagined they should work). My healer was always out of mana, my tank couldn't do any threat and it generally degraded to my mages setting everything on fire including themselves.

Gear felt poorly itemised and created on a whim rather than planned out in any way.

Even in the turn based mode the combat always felt completely random with the NPCs doing the wrong thing.

ME2 on the other hand the combat left fluid and the NPCs generally backed me up with what ever I was trying to do and could use there commands on the fly quite easily.

The only real problem I had with ME2 was I kept ending up with odd skill points left over that I could either pretend didn't exist or put in the first tier of a skill tree that I'm never going to use.
bdigital 19th December 2010, 12:42 Quote
I loved DA.

But just could not get into ME2, after two goes at trying. Just didnt get me hooked.
justicefornone 19th December 2010, 13:22 Quote
I loved both!

I think the cast of ME2 was stronger, but it felt more 'on rails' than DA:O where you could have major impact on situations. Although the endgame was MUCH better done in ME2 than DA:O, in fact for me it was a straight flip!
Skiddywinks 19th December 2010, 13:50 Quote
Played BG2 at least 6 times through.

Played ME to completion 4 times.

Played ME2 to completion once.

Can't play more than 8 hours total in to a DA:O save without getting bored shitless.
Woollster00 19th December 2010, 13:54 Quote
Completely the opposite loved Dragon age played it a lot and restarted many times and got all the DLC and tyhourougly enjoyed it i was more drawn into the story mass effect 2 just bores me haven't even played it for 3 hours after owning it for 6 months
pimonserry 19th December 2010, 14:03 Quote
Really didn't like Dragon Age. Found it very disappointing.

ME2 on the other hand, I can't keep myself out of.
Mattyjw 19th December 2010, 14:44 Quote
Mass Effect Wins! Fatality!!!
Ljs 19th December 2010, 14:47 Quote
I enjoyed both ME and DA:O. Both however felt flawed.

My main gripe was with DA:O, and I had to "sit" on the healer to progress at a higher difficulty so she didn't blow all her mana doing stupid things and generally not healing (even after playing around with the action/casting options for more time than I cared to).
Paradigm Shifter 19th December 2010, 14:48 Quote
Was hooked on Dragon Age the first time through. Tried to replay it recently and it just wasn't worth it. Got bored in tens of minutes, gave up after an hour.

Played Mass Effect all the way through - hooked throughout, with the exception of the final boss which was very poor. On a replay it's almost as good.

Mass Effect 2... struggled with the story, and to care about the 'new' characters. Completed it but have no desire to go play it again.

On the other hand, I've replayed Planescape Torment and Baldurs Gate I & II enough times combined that I've lost count - and they never seem to get boring. I'm not so sure it's a fantasy/sci-fi thing, so much as it is that story and gameplay seems to have taken a back seat to the double curse of 'graphics' and 'ease of play'.
Kyndylan 19th December 2010, 15:27 Quote
I played and enjoyed DA:O, although it took me ages due to university work and getting married getting in the way! I've also got ME1, and I'm about four hours in and totally not gripped. I'm hoping that by persevering I'll get through it and on to ME2, which most people say is superior...
Grimloon 19th December 2010, 15:37 Quote
I definitely have a preference for Mass Effect over Dragon Age (just finished ME1 again, half way through yet another ME2 replay - I'm a massive sci fi fan) but, as others have said, they both lack the detail and richness of earlier BioWare offerings.

Both are nice looking, smoothly running games (I just haven't seen any of the issues you've referred to with Dragon Age, even when running it at 5040 x 1050) and I can see myself replaying them for a time yet just not after the next 10 years, unlike Planescape Torment (which, incidentally, I'm seriously tempted to buy from GOG even though I still have my original copy just because they've tweaked it for Windows rather than needing to run it under DOSbox).
Ficky Pucker 19th December 2010, 16:07 Quote
DA:O is so boring, after 2 hours i just gave up on it...
GravitySmacked 19th December 2010, 16:37 Quote
I loved them both.
Apoptosis 19th December 2010, 16:46 Quote
I liked Mass Effect more than Dragon Age, but I liked DA more than ME2. All three are truly excellent games in my opinion.

I guess the reason I really liked Dragon Age, as trite and clichéd as some people seem to think it is, might have something to do with the fact that I never played the original Baldur's Gates. I can see how a Baldurs Gate veteran might view DA as recycled content, but as someone coming "fresh" into the whole fantasy RPG thing, to me DA really feels like an epitome of the genre.

I've been meaning to mend the hole in my general knowledge and play the old Bioware RPG's, but I'm afraid the dated graphics might get in the way of the experience. Once you've seen the likes of Mass Effect 2, it's hard to go back to pre-rendered isometry.
thehippoz 19th December 2010, 17:14 Quote
dragon age had a lot of audio, almost too much.. I mean getting to each characters story out at camp was a a big part.. the assassin elf kept trying to get in my pants and I ended up sleeping with a dwarf in the brothel (on accident I'd like to think)

but there was a lot of content.. without the dlc it was challenging and fun.. with the dlc, console boy wins again- smash up the room shale

thought mass effect 1 was better than me2.. but the story and overall it was still a very fun game to play.. plus you had to choose love interests and your choices decided who lived and died in the end.. I'd say they were both worth playing through.. dragon age a bit more if your the exploring type who likes lore and back story

both games you get to sleep with other characters, but dragon age took it a bit far..

what has been seen cannot be unseen
Kiytan 19th December 2010, 17:26 Quote
I think the thing that made ME2 more engaging to me was the dialogue. everything being voiced (and voiced really, really well) does make a big difference
especially Compared to it the stilted "Everyone stand really still while we have this conversation". I also felt I could have a much more consistent shepard than a character in DA, where I seemed to be able to change around more than someone with Multiple personality disorder.

The other thing that irked me about DA was the racism/hostility towards the grey wardens, people seem to hate them because.....they're grey wardens.
This was even more noticeable after I played the Witcher, in which the hostility was more balanced, they where hated, but on the other hand, it wasn't just baseless, the witchers (Geralt especially) where cold and lacking in emotion.

Also some of the choices in DA really didn't seem to have as much of an impact as I would have suspected, like when you play the royal dwarf, you came back after being exiled (and supposed to be killed) and people hardly bat an eyelid. That and harrowmont still doesn't trust you, what the F, when I last saw him he said he would spent his life trying to prove me innocent.

Combined with all of that was the fact a lot of the classes in DA felt severely underpowered, morrigans shapeshifting (except perhaps the bear) was underwhelming and took to long to cast to be able to use it mid-battle. Arcane warrior mages sucked as you had to sheathe your weapon for almost every spell, which was seriously time consuming, forcing you to use a staff, somewhat negating the point of an arcane warrior.
Redbeaver 19th December 2010, 18:25 Quote
ME 2 = DAO

ME > ME 2

The Witcher > ME

that is all.
Volund 19th December 2010, 18:35 Quote
I far preferred the story and characters in ME to the ones in ME2, but after playing ME2, going back to the graphics, slow load times, and other quirks of the first game are irritating to say the least... I want to go back and re-play to import a character, but I just can't bring myself to.
Podge4 19th December 2010, 19:07 Quote
At the moment i have the same problem with DA that i have with oblivion, in that I have played ME2 before DA and Fallout 3 before Oblivion. DA just hasn't gripped me the same as MA or ME2 did yet. In time with DA and oblivion i hope i can get into them but i just don't seem to be able to play them for anymore than 20 mins before i get so bored of them i don't want to try them again.

I must admit that when i bought ME it played the first mission and didn't touch it again properly for months, not because i didn't like it i wasn't ready to start it at that point. And when i was in the mood and ready to play it i was blown w#away with how good it was. And on the podcast the guys say there isn't a lot of action for a while which is true, but I really liked the part walking round the Citadel, if it didn't have the story it did i could so easily have given up but because it has a vast expansive story and every action you take can alter the story (not always in a good way) it kept me playing.

Lastly, i don't know if everyone did but i tried to make shepards face look like mine (it never works tho i still come out looking uglier in every game i try) is it just me or when i see the clips of the game it looks weird having the normal shepard face i want it to have my shepards face.

Anyway, in ME2, *****posible spoiler from here to end. ***** I didn't trust the Elusive Man, but at the end of the game where you can blow up the ship, he says save the ship to acquire the tech from it, this is how good ME series is, i have real regrets with the choice i made and by the third game im hoping the choice doesn't come back to haunt me. Im not re-playing the 1st two games until i have played the third, im playing ME2 a bit still with the same save just to do some missions i have missed, but i won't restart from beginning..*****
Gavo 19th December 2010, 19:10 Quote
You didn't play DA: O on the PC, did you? The graphics on the PC version aren't "poor, with basic and blocky geometry, low-res textures and too much shininess". They're really nice.
Podge4 19th December 2010, 19:17 Quote
i've them all on pc
jimmyjj 19th December 2010, 20:32 Quote
DAO was good and I enjoyed it. ME2 was better I have to admit - loved it.

It was almost ruined by the mining though, Pure boredom and pure unforgivable padding from the developer.

Looking forward to ME3 one hell of a lot more than DAO2,
thEcat 19th December 2010, 21:31 Quote
Overall writing: DA = ME2
Interaction between PC and main NPCs: I'd give DA the edge but let's say DA = ME2
Interaction between PC and other NPCs: DA = ME2
Interaction between main NPCs = DA > ME2
Graphics: While the style differs I'd say DA = ME2
Mini games: ME2 > DA
Team combat AI: ME2 > DA
Team combat mechanics: DA > ME2
RPG elements: DA > ME2

Looks like a draw, close enough. Now the negatives...

Stupid mini games: ME2 > DA
Quick time events: ME2 > DA
Ruining the story/mood with QT events: ME2 > DA
Telegraphing combat situations: ME2 > DA
Telegraphing combat by filling a room with obvious cover: ME2 > DA

Ouch! Guess it all comes down to what you want from a game. Both games have serious flaws but I certainly spent a lot more time playing DA as I found it to be less annoying overall. A comparison of DA and ME1 would have been a much closer race.
Yemerich 19th December 2010, 22:13 Quote
Team combat in ME2 is almos inexistent. I've played the entire game as I don't have partners. Developed the main character the way I wanted (wich I have to say it's very poor) and just throw the points randomly at the coadjuvants in ME2.

On the other hand, my main character in DA:O were completely dependant in the other NPC. My main was a tank, morgan, the old wizard woman and the thief. Morgan and the old woman healed the rest of the party plus aided in attacks, and the thief were used for traps and senaking. Sometime later I used Shale, the golem, as a second tank.

In ME2 the main character did all the work on healing and the attacks. Sneaking/stealth was almost inexistent.

There are so much more ways to develop the party and the main character in DA:O.

What about the random conversations from morrigan to allaister and shale to any other characters?... They are so much fun!.

C'mon! You can wield two swords in DA:O but you can't have guns akimbo in ME!

Anyway, ME1 had a fantastic story. I really LOVED it. ME2 was shallow as a spit. I have the impression that if you play ME1 and 3 you wouldn't see any point in playing ME2. But for now, thats just a guess.

DA:O you can develop stories from the beggining a little different, but the overall story is shallow too.

ME2 is a great game, but as a hardcore RPG fan, DA:O is much more game.

Good thing I can have them both on my PC :D

BTW, DA2 scared me with all that manga-like look. GOD!! I HATE manga clichès! I hope its just a stupid teaser...
s3v3n 20th December 2010, 00:38 Quote
I don't think they can be compared directly.
DA:O is for people who want to explore and do their own thing.
ME is for people who want to have an interactive movie.

I like both, but under different situations. I played DA:O when I wanted to do some RPG gaming for a long time. I played ME when I just wanted a story and be entertained.
sear 20th December 2010, 03:45 Quote
Actually, Mass Effect 2 feels like a really generic, run of the mill shooter where your choices don't matter and graphics are prioritised over depth, story and proper role-playing. In comparison, Dragon Age offers a classic CRPG experience, albeit a bit streamlined and with a lot of interface improvements. While the story itself is dull, the world is full of deep, rich lore and the combat is tactical, challenging and rewarding, without being frustrating like the D&D-based games in BioWare's back catalog. Mass Effect 2 is undeniably a better game than the first, moment-to-moment, but I don't think that having celebrity voices and a sci-fi theme really makes it a more compelling play experience than Dragon Age. We have a word for people who think that way: it's "shallow".

I think it's unfair to wholly dismiss Dragon Age as "boring". It's a very different game from Mass Effect 2, and targeted towards a different audience. You can level just as many criticisms at each, but at least Dragon Age doesn't have the absurd number of plot holes and genuinely "what the **** were they on when they though of this?" moments that Mass Effect 2 does, nor does it lack when it comes to depth, choice and consequence, and actual role-playing. For those who call its combat mechanics too challenging or "random"... all I can say is, learn to play. Go play through Icewind Dale or the original Baldur's Gate + expansion, and tell me Dragon Age is difficult. Compared to the classic CRPGs it emulates, Dragon Age is a walk in the park... which in its case is a good thing, since it relies a lot less on appeasing random number generator gods than it does on making smart decisions in building your party and during combat. Modern RPG players have it easy.

Now, to be fair, while I think Dragon Age is better, I think that comes down more to personal preference. To call Mass Effect 2 an RPG is just downright shameful, but as a story-driven shooter it's definitely up to par with other games in its genre, and certainly has better writing even if the main storyline has some major issues. I'm more an RPG fan than I am a shooter fan these days, so while I could appreciate both games, Dragon Age really struck me as the genre revival I was looking for (shame about the sequel, huh?). Both are excellent games considering the state of the industry, but then, remember that Planescape: Torment was also made over ten years ago; it's despicable that an RPG even coming close to that level of quality, storytelling and consistent creativity has yet to surface in all this time.
Eiffie 20th December 2010, 05:05 Quote
I own both games on PC. Beat Dragon Age a total of three times so far and now I'm working my way through the DLC missions and stuff like that which is pretty hit or miss but the main game is quite something. Mass Effect 2 on the other hand has been collecting dust on my hard drive. I got twelve hours deep into it and I just stopped playing, scanning was lame, the characters kinda got on my nerves [that's more of a personal note but hey, it's how I felt] and the combat was pretty uninteresting as far as I got. Granted, I did play the soldier class which doesn't get some of the more flashy powers but after playing the first game a few times as that very same class, I was not impressed with ME2.

Dragon Age is a clear winner for me and I was always more of a sci-fi guy. Mages, elves, kings and crowns never really interested me but Dragon Age did the whole fantasy setting right.
Xir 20th December 2010, 09:28 Quote
Originally Posted by MiNiMaL_FuSS
But both ME's overall were brilliant games - but they were very similar to the KOTOR mold, and KOTOR games were better and more original.

Does anyone know a good source for buying KOTOR 2?
cjb119 20th December 2010, 11:11 Quote
I'd almost agree, but when it was released I played DA:O for pretty much the entire weekend, 30h+, and most of the week nights after...then stopped! In the dwarven mine, and have been for months...just not played it.
But I did similar for ME1 and ME2, got near the end quickly then stopped playing for months. I think in all cases though its because I don't want it to end.

I think one of the DA:O problems though for me is that I tend to be I'll do every damn quest and then get bored. And there are a lot of really dull quests in the traditional RPG...which being more action based Mass Effect mostly avoided.
dispie 20th December 2010, 11:24 Quote
Strange i have the oppisite effect ME2 does not do it for me while dragon age even do the graphics are not that great is very enjoyable.

it just the kind of player you are some people don't like oblivion and like fall out 3 i must say oblivion does it for me fall out 3 i started but never really got into.

cjb119 also has a point i like questing and finding every little thing in the game other people like more action, i still remember wolfenstein the first one i pushed every wall in the game looking for secret passways

its also fantasy vs Sifi some people like guns others like bows and swords
Fizzban 20th December 2010, 12:03 Quote
I greatly enjoyed both and I have played both several times already. But if I had to choose I would say that Mass Effect 2 is my preference.
Hovis 20th December 2010, 12:35 Quote
Woah there nelly, you killed the kid Clive? You monster!

Personally I felt that Dragon Age was a solid contender for best game ever, until Mass Effect 2 came out and was clearly superior. For me the fundamental difference is the better implementation of the writing (although the writing is brilliant for both, ME2 uses it better) and the combat, which is done better in ME2.

But that said I don't think it's entirely fair to compare ME2 to DA, because ME2 is a second generation game, and the first Mass Effect suffers from quite a few of the same issues as Dragon Age. My spidey sense reckons Dragon Age 2, if it gets the same kind of treatment as Mass Effect 2, could be immense. For a first stab the first Dragon Age was very good.
Unknownsock 20th December 2010, 16:49 Quote
The problem here is that DA and ME2 are awesome.
Yet both are horribly flawed.

Me2 being the better, they changed too much from the original.
The ending was pants..

I was left with the credits rolling just thinking is that it?
Whilst with the original ME, I was overwhelmed at the epicness.
Horizon 20th December 2010, 17:43 Quote
Majority if the time I spent playing Dragon age it felt incomplete and the feeling reinforced every time with each DLC release in the first few months.
wafflesomd 20th December 2010, 20:35 Quote
Mass Effect 2 was fun, Dragon Age was not.

Pretty simple.
Aragon Speed 21st December 2010, 01:18 Quote
I prefer Terry Pratchett's view of elves myself. (Anyone remember Mankin from Discworld Noir?)
Hovis 21st December 2010, 02:46 Quote
The Dragon Age DLC was so bad it made my inner child start self-harming. But the DLC for ME2 was so good it had the opposite effect and my inner child turned his life around.
mastorofpuppetz 21st December 2010, 18:09 Quote
The combat in DAO was ten times as strategic and complex as the generic run of the mill dog easy combat in ME. Me is a gerneric Sci fi, not a good RPG, not a good shooter. neither are that good as bioware are the kings of run of the mill, recycle the same story and cliche's over and over. DAO is better then Me over all , but not saying much, bioware is overrated and over hyped. The witcher is better then either, even with its love or hate it combat.
mastorofpuppetz 21st December 2010, 18:10 Quote
Also, so many of the complaints about DAO in this artivle are simply moronic falsehoods. Graphics are fine on PC, and gameplay ? graphics. Me = Style over substance.
mastorofpuppetz 21st December 2010, 18:32 Quote
Bit-tech has so massive ME fangirls its starting to get sickening.
Fizzban 21st December 2010, 19:11 Quote
Originally Posted by mastorofpuppetz
Bit-tech has so massive ME fangirls its starting to get sickening.
sausages 22nd December 2010, 08:27 Quote
Originally Posted by Paddy
I have to say I felt the complete opposite with regard to ME2 and Dragon Age.

I felt the same way.

I preferred the graphics of ME2 but that's about the only thing I preferred. I thought the combat was as dumbed down as it gets and I hated every minute of it. I didn't think Dragon Age 2 was exactly great, but it was pretty good.

A lot of that stuff is what people expect from an RPG. Slogging through a dungeon, that is the bread and butter of RPG's... Complaining about that is like buying Fifa and complaining that there's too much football.

Although, a lot of what they did with the game was pretty mediocre. The enemies were repetitive, the quests were often more chores than epic adventures, some of the characters were fake and annoying, it dragged on in parts that weren't very good, and it was cut short on bits that I enjoyed. I still think Baldur's Gate 2 was infinitely better, but still, it was ok.
Macready 22nd December 2010, 16:39 Quote
Have to say, massive lulz @ the writer who things a dumbed down Gears of War clone is "fresh and innovative".

For the record, I didnt like Dragon Age, but I respected it as an earnest attempt to recapture that classic awesomeness of the Baldurs Gate era, where games were big, complex and required time and love to complete and enjoy. Not just sitting on your fat ass for 2 hours a night aiming a recticle at a mook and pulling a trigger until it dies, then hiding behind cover until your health regens.

Honestly, I, like a load of folks believe ME1 kicks the living POO out of ME2. Sure, ME1 is hideously flawed and has some incredibly questionable elements, but to anyone with a brain larger than a pea, ME2 has exactly the same things, while aiming to achieve much, MUCH less. Even with key things, like a "cohesive and impact story" or "characters who have a place and an impact on said story".

DAO, like ME1, TRIES to achieve much more than ME2. The only things they tried to achieve in ME2 were tighter shooter mechanics, tighter visuals, and shoving said two tighter elements into a tighter, more dumbed down and linear series of short missions. Slop on a generic busywork plot that barely holds the game together, painting the remaining missions as "character driven", and thats about it for ME2.

Oh, and before anyone does trot out the "character driven" excuse, no, the game is NOT character driven. Not one iota. The game is shooter driven. Once you have traversed from point a to b, using all the cover littered through to shoot your enemies, you will get a "loyal" squadmate, who has no further interaction with the plot that is unique to them. They may have an errand during the endgame, but these are so interchangeable with all other characters it hurts.

Basically, ME2 is not fresh, innovative, ambitious, vivid, varied or any of the other hyperbolic trash used in this comparison. Is is derivitive, and it is above all else: safe.

Its so painfully obvious with ME2 that more than anything else, they tried to focus on the elements they thought could make them the most money, even above Biowares holy chalice of "story and characters".

This is why the dumbed down, unambitious little turd known as ME2 occupies its place as not only the worst sequel I have ever played, but the most disappointing, dumbed down game I have ever played.

I would strongly recommend Bioware get back to some form of "balance" in their game design with ME3, and not just "lets polish the shooter mechanics to try and make us loads of cash". More importantly, I would even more strongly recommend they simply get back to just MAKING A MASS EFFECT GAME. Yes, make a Mass Effect game, not a TPS game. That was supposed to be an ELEMENT of the game, not the focus of the game itself.

tl;dr Mass Effect 2 is a dumbed down, unambitious little money grubber that is as flawed as DAO, minus the attempt to achieve something greater that was in DAO, so I must disagree, and say that DAO is by far the better game than that grotty little Gears of War ripoff that insulted my intelligence.
mastorofpuppetz 22nd December 2010, 17:32 Quote
Agreed Macgready, its a sad state of affairs when such a simple watered down game as ME2 is looked on as innovative, it does absolutely nothing new, and it only does what it does Ok, not great,
GravitySmacked 22nd December 2010, 19:32 Quote
As far as I'm concerned it comes down to whether a game is enjoyable or not; I couldn't give a rats ass to whether it's dumbed down or not or if it's a 'proper RPG'.

I've been gaming far too long to care about elitist this and dumbed down that; if I enjoy it then it's all good whatever the game, genre or platform.

The fact is I immensely enjoyed Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 (even more so) and DOA and it's expansion.

People here seem to get so worked up over games not being like the 'old days' and people buying games these days are just idiots; the thing is I don't care and I highly doubt that many other people who are enjoying them care either.

The 'elitism' on this forum is getting somewhat sickening as well in my opinion but there you go.
sear 23rd December 2010, 01:50 Quote
Originally Posted by GravitySmacked
As far as I'm concerned it comes down to whether a game is enjoyable or not; I couldn't give a rats ass to whether it's dumbed down or not or if it's a 'proper RPG'.

I've been gaming far too long to care about elitist this and dumbed down that; if I enjoy it then it's all good whatever the game, genre or platform.

The fact is I immensely enjoyed Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 (even more so) and DOA and it's expansion.

People here seem to get so worked up over games not being like the 'old days' and people buying games these days are just idiots; the thing is I don't care and I highly doubt that many other people who are enjoying them care either.

The 'elitism' on this forum is getting somewhat sickening as well in my opinion but there you go.
Go play Planescape: Torment, Baldur's Gate II, Fallout, and Arcanum, and tell me that Mass Effect 2 or Dragon Age is a better game, much less a better RPG than any of them. Yes, I enjoyed several games that came out this year, Mass Effect 2 among them. That doesn't mean that we can give a pass to developers whose only improvement over previous generations of games is when it comes to visuals. Mass Effect 2 is a thrill ride, and a beautiful one, to be sure, but does it offer a single iota of originality? Was the gaming landscape in any way altered by its creation, other than its contribution to the sequel aristocracy that is making it harder and harder to bring new, original ideas to fruition?

I think that the videogame medium is one of the only in history where regression from the standards set a decade earlier is considered "innovation".
GravitySmacked 23rd December 2010, 07:42 Quote
I'm not saying it's a better 'RPG', I'm saying it's a great game which deserves its place at the top of the poll; one I enjoyed immensely as did many others.
Hovis 23rd December 2010, 12:38 Quote
Mass Effect 2 is probably the best pure RPG I've ever played because the developers took the time to really purge the asinine stats and grinding elements from it. I mean there is some levelling and whatnot there still, but no more than you'd get in a Battlefield game. That's how it should be. RPGs should be about the story, about feeling like you are playing a character, not about number crunching, spreadsheets and swords +1.
mastorofpuppetz 23rd December 2010, 13:01 Quote
LMAO @ Hovis, best pure RPG you ever played, low standards, ME is barely an RPG and it sure as hell is not a pure RPG. LMAO. The story in ME is woefully cliched, full of typical sterotypical bioware characters. Its basically the same sci-fi story we have seen 4-5 times already. Hovis - clueless, wouldn't know what an RPG is. Havign a story doesn't make a game an RPG, if thats the case Grand Theft auto is an RPG. Thats not how it should be.

Mass Effect = Below avg RPG, Average shooter, full of cliche's and superficial choices. Its a testament to how immature gaming is as a medium if Me is considered Innovative, what did it innovate? How to turn a RPG into an bad shooter?
sear 24th December 2010, 04:50 Quote
Originally Posted by Hovis
Mass Effect 2 is probably the best pure RPG I've ever played because the developers took the time to really purge the asinine stats and grinding elements from it. I mean there is some levelling and whatnot there still, but no more than you'd get in a Battlefield game. That's how it should be. RPGs should be about the story, about feeling like you are playing a character, not about number crunching, spreadsheets and swords +1.
I'm not sure we played the same game. But, more importantly, this gives me an opportunity to talk about a problem about misconceptions about RPGs by the general gaming community.

Mass Effect 2 has a strong cast of characters with a relatively weak narrative full of plot holes and stupid decisions holding it together, and occasionally, as the player character, you have a choice in how events play out. However, the impact of these choices is almost always inconsequential - the world and story are not changed significantly at all, Shepard never grows as a character or has much say in how the game's events progress and end, and while the end result is that your decision to complete side-quests dictates who lives and who dies at the end, the actual decisions you make have very little effect on this. Basically, the entire loyalty mechanic has nothing to do with doing and saying things for different outcomes, but rather is built entirely around 100% completion of the game.

On top of that, the mostly cosmetic decisions you're given are often inconsistent in tone and degree. While this isn't quite as much of a problem as in Mass Effect 1, in Mass Effect 2, "paragon" can mean everything from "child-hugging softie" to "proud, determined hero"; "renegade" has even more variability, usually finding its place somewhere between "racist asshole", "smarmy jerk" and "raging psychopath". Shepard's decisions are things you often have no control over, and it's not always clear what's going to happen when you select a dialogue option, but even worse than that, the character you're supposed to be playing is woefully inconsistent and can never make up his or her mind. Where there should be at least three or four consistent "roles" you can play throughout the game, there's actually about twelve, but only two tend to be available at any one time. Giving in-game rewards for sticking to the same character path throughout despite whatever situational feelings the player may have only serves to reinforce that you're not dictating your own story, but rather, being led through one in which you get to determine how much of a jerk the protagonist is. Oh, and as for you guys that like to take a neutral course through the game? Yeah, sorry, you're out of luck, since your decisions don't count for **** in BioWare's world of moral extremes.

And, of course, there's the major, most damning problem Mass Effect has, and that is that it almost never allows the player to explore multiple solutions to problems. If all the best CRPGs out there had one thing in common, it was that as the player, you had more than just an influence on events, but you were actually able to use your unique skill set to seek out alternative solutions to problems that wouldn't be available to another player. How many times in Mass Effect 2 can you resolve a situation through more than two means which are directly related to your character's abilities? How about opening doors using your heavy weapons skill, or taking out an enemy commander from afar because you're good at sniping, or saving some hostages because your biotics can disable the baddies guarding them? What about a character treating you differently because of your moral alignment? Your appearance? Your intelligence? Your abilities in combat? I can't think of a single one.

See, here's the thing that people (you included, I'm afraid) miss out, and that is that the CRPG, in all its stat-driven glory, doesn't contain "spreadsheets" for the sake of having spreadsheets. The reason those stats exist is because CRPGs are extremely complex interworking systems, wherein the ability of your character determines outcomes; in fact, generally CRPGs are no different than many other genres, save for the depth of those systems. RPGs always expose these numbers not because they're "for nerds", but because knowing these numbers is integral to understanding the complexity of the systems that govern the game. If I'm going to be operating in a world with manifold possibilities, then I'm going to need to know how and why my actions are influencing the world, or all that choice and consequence is for nothing. While this doesn't mean that everything has to be based around die rolls, it does mean that it's good to know you can't open a door because your lockpicking skill isn't high enough, or that you can't use a certain type of weapon because you have no training with it. Pretty much every game with some sort of ability progression does this, but RPGs simply increase the possibilities available - increasing your Intelligence by +3 to buff up your spells is no different than getting a new spell in an action-adventure, except that in an RPG, you have some paths open and some paths closed based on how you've developed your character.

Let's take an example, and probably one of the best there is: Fallout. In Fallout, while your choices in conversations do have an impact upon events in the game, there's an even greater impact upon the game world by way of your actions. Your skill set, expressed numerically, is what determines what you are and are not capable of. Your character may be great at punching people and blowing things up, but has to make sacrifices elsewhere (maybe he's not so smart, or isn't very agile). This means that certain opportunities in the game are going to be available to him that aren't available to other characters, and some will be closed off, or will require a different means to accomplish. Perhaps you can get through a door by planting some explosives instead of lockpicking, or by bribing the guards, or stealing the key, or hacking a computer terminal. Any one of these solutions is just as valid as the next, but offers a fundamentally different mode of interaction with the game. Combined with dialogue options that help to influence how the story progresses, you have a system which allows players to not just explore a world, but to make a unique mark on it the way they want to.

It's the decisions made in building a character and interacting with the world, and the depth and breadth of those possible decisions, that RPGs are all about - not "good stories" or whatever similarly nebulous qualities you want to throw around, since otherwise everything from Grand Theft Auto, to Call of Duty 4, to Half-Life 2 would qualify. Now, I don't presume to tell you what games to play, or that Mass Effect 2 is a worse off game because it doesn't adhere to what I've stated above; I actually think it's a better game than the first Mass Effect despite its pared-down RPG mechanics. However, to call Mass Effect 2 a "pure" RPG represents a mindset which is totally disconnected from what RPGs are in the first place. At best, this mindset (which is held by many) is merely misinformed, and can be changed with experience, and at worst, it is poisonous, because by mislabeling certain types of games as RPGs, we set expectations for the industry and lower standards for future games in the RPG genre. Part of the reason true RPGs have nearly died out is that the notion of what constitutes an RPG has become so diluted that both players and developers have stopped supporting the genre; this isn't out of any malicious intent, but out of ignorance. I don't want to see the genre fade any more than it already has.
Aragon Speed 24th December 2010, 05:04 Quote
Originally Posted by sear

I liked both ME games, and I like DAO as well, but ME and, even more so, ME2 are only barely RPG's. Perhaps they should have a new catagory - RPG-L. (Role Playing Game - Lite) ^^
Macready 24th December 2010, 12:46 Quote
Originally Posted by Aragon Speed

I liked both ME games, and I like DAO as well, but ME and, even more so, ME2 are only barely RPG's. Perhaps they should have a new catagory - RPG-L. (Role Playing Game - Lite) ^^

While I totally agree, that just isnt necessary.

I dont know about everyone else, but I define a games genre by what the game is dominated by in terms of content. It is IMPORTANT to differentiate. All these arrogant folks trying to look hip and cool saying "genres are bad man, I play games for fun!" or "I dont care about the genre, I just want good games", they need to shut the hell up.

I like the distinction between sports for example. Just because I like the thrill a certain sport gives me doesnt me I just want any kind of thrill from sports. Its important to know what does what.

Back to the original point, since 90% of Mass Effect 2 is cover based shooting (intersped with minor instances of dialogue), Id say the best way to define ME2 is just "cover based third person shooter with light RPG elements". Or just TPS. Its the dominant gameplay feature in ME2, so why not? They spent most of their effort on improving the shooter mechanics and forcing them on the player throughout the entire game (to the detriment of pretty much everything else), so in light of that the genre it deserves to belong to the most is simply TPS.

You can play through the entire game almost ignoring all RPG elements. Conversations massively scaled back on choice in ME2 as well to the point that they are now barely interactive cutscenes, so that doesnt count either. On the flip side, the shooter elements of ME2 are completely and totally UNAVOIDABLE.

Like it or not, shooter is by far the dominant element in ME2.

In ME1 it was a fairly equal aspect to RPG and exploration etc. Its why ME1 was more of an action/rpg hybrid. ME2 goes near full on for the action, and therefore needs to be labeled accordingly, and calling it an RPG just wont do.

Im pretty sure the devs will agree. I dont post at the Bioware forums (the place is a dungheap) but on the odd occasion Ive gone looking for information, Ive almost seen the devs outright ready to admit ME2 is more a shooter than anything else, and that they want new shooter fans more than they want to please so of the RPG diehards that still might be hanging around.

Its what they are doing with DA2 as well. Whether or not its EA influenced is really irrelevant now, simply put Bioware, who used to make Bioware games for Bioware fans, are now trying to make mainstream action games for mainstream action fans. Not only does this lower the quality of their games, it has this nasty habit of annoying people like me. Its the reason I detest ME2 so much, and why Im so inclined to rant when the overrated dumbed down shooter gets paraded about as the messiah of the RPG genre, when its actually murdering it and putting Gears of War in its place.
GravitySmacked 24th December 2010, 13:06 Quote
There's a lot of anger in both mastorofpuppetz and macready's posts. If people don't agree with you there is simply no need to tell them to shut the hell up of call them idiots, clueless etc.

It's almost as if you're the same person posting but I'm sure that's not the case; my old age must be making me cynical. I just guess you both really, really hate ME2.
Fizzban 24th December 2010, 21:50 Quote
It's true ME2 is barely an RPG, its basically a squad shooter/action game, but frankly who cares what genre it fits into. I think people are getting too hung up on what pigeon-hole the game should be placed in. It's a game. You either enjoyed it or you didn't.
Hrodwulf666 25th December 2010, 13:18 Quote
I generally avoid the need to compare them at all, as they are different games with different suject matter, there are similarities, but the general reason people compare them is that they are from the same studio. I played them both, ME2 is just brilliant, great visuals great depth and a great story. Dragon age is less brilliant in terms of visuals and polish on the whole however in places its actually very good, for instance the dwarven kingdom (i forget its name) is visually excellent, but here and there it does look unquestionably appaling. I am ok with this and put it down to an emphasis on dialogue and storytelling. That said it kept me playing from beginning to end last year when I was sick with viral bronchitis and I was riveted to it.
All in all they are both two different games and both have many differences and will do better or worse depending on who is comparing them.
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