Dragon Age: Origins (PC) E3 2008 Preview

Developer: BioWare Corp | Publisher: Electronic Arts

I partook in a presentation for Dragon Age: Origins that was given at E3 2008. Giving the presentation was BioWare’s Dan Tudge, who is the project director for the game. He didn’t give us a lecture about the game before we actually got to see anything; we jumped right in with another BioWare employee showing us the game, with Dan explaining as we went along.

Dragon Age: Origins is BioWare’s spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate. The game itself actually melds Knights of the Old Republic with Baldur’s Gate, from what I saw. As experienced in Knights of the Old Republic, you are able to pause the game and give orders, as well as make decisions during the story scenes that can impact the way the story is told to you. The Baldur’s Gate influence obviously comes from the actual theme of the game – you’re fighting in a medieval-style game with many types of ogres and stuff like that. Maybe even a dragon comes along sometime, not that I saw in the demonstration, however. From the ground up, the game is built as a fantasy game for core RPG fans.

Similar to other recent PC RPGs, there is a bar along the bottom that you can select for certain attacks. This comes in handy when you pause the game and give orders to your allies and your own character. Seemingly, you can change your main party character, although I might be confused to that fact, since I didn’t actually see them change it. Hit points and mana seem to recharge as time goes on, not particularly needing someone to heal outside of battle, though it becomes vital to have someone healing as battles get more intense.

The battle system is party-based tactical. You can have a single member or up to four at one time. When I asked how many party members you could have, they said “what we’ve shown is four.” This sort of implies it might be possible to have more than four party members, as they said multiple times that the game is “scalable” combat. If this means you can have a whole army under your command, then it’d be an interesting thing to see, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Obviously a big part of these sorts of RPGs is loot and the inventory system. There will be loot — that much is certain. As for the inventory system, it is said to be more like Baldur’s Gate than Mass Effect, which supposedly had complaints about its inventory system. The inventory and equipment system was shown briefly.

As party members go through more and more battles, we see blood and gore that was sprayed by defeated enemies still left on characters. I don’t know if it goes away eventually or if it is replaced by new blood, but Dan Tudge was apt to point out that the characters do show signs of being in earlier battles

BioWare is determined on establishing Dragon Age as a new franchise. The “Origins” subtitle is symbolic to BioWare because they are going back to their own “origins” by creating this new game franchise. On top of that, Dragon Age: Origins is meant to be the first in the series, so its meant to give background information that the later games fall back on. They’ve been working on the game since 2004, so they are definitely planning for the game to be out in 2009 for the PC only.


Take Two Buys EA – TTEA Is Made

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series This Is Satire


In what could be an astounding chain of events, Take Two has announced they have bought Electronic Arts.  Not disclosing any details of the transaction, Take Two interim CEO Benjamin Feder is hailed as a mastermind of negotiation.

“This isn’t some herbal supplement we’ve got here.” elaborated Chairman of the Board Strauss Zelnick.  “This is real Earl Grey tea.  None of that flavored stuff you get at some knock-off Trader Joes kind of place.”

The new company will be named TTEA – pronounced “Tuh-tee.”

You can expect to see a lot more games based on tea, starting with the spin-off of the Grand Theft Auto series, GTeA.

GTeA follows a know-nothing Eastern-European criminal that makes his way to the top of the tea industry, finding out the best way to make tea.  Platforms announced are the PS3 and 360. The Wii will also be getting its own delightful version of GTeA called GTeAWii in which you can actually stir the tea before giving it to your gangster friends.

Merchandising for GTeA will include a special brand of Tea, aptly named, GTeA.  One teabag of actual GTeA will come with each copy of the GTeA game, with whole packages being sold exclusively through Amazon.com.

“We feel that giving the user the ability to experience the tea that they see, hear, and make in the game is important to the synergy of the game and this merger,” newly appointed Chief of Tea John Riccitiello.

Commenting on the merger between Take Two, EA, and his new appointing in the corporate structure at TTEA, John Ricciteiello is “glad to finally be able to focus on what my life has really been all about — tea.  I hate all that money talk, what’s it all matter if you can’t get a good cup of tea at the end of the day?  I’ll make sure that every employee at TTEA gets the tea they deserve, as Chief of Tea.”

In the coming weeks, the board of TTEA will re-evaluate every single product that has begun development in the past year to refocus on making their games more “tea-oriented.”

“It’s unfortunate that so many games will be released before we are able to re-evaluate the value of releasing games that do not have anything to do with tea, but rest assure that BioShock 2 will be all about rescuing a crate of tea from the hands of that Colombian guy with the donkey who shows up in your window randomly and makes people drink evil coffee.  Oops, I didn’t just give away the story did I?” Strauss Zelnick stated at the press conference.

As a result of the announcement, Activision Blizzard has shown no remorse in the affability of the new mega-corporation’s name, simply stating “Ours is worse.”


Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (PC) Hands-On Preview

Developer: DICE | Publisher: Electronic Arts ||

The Battlefield franchise is coming around for a new shot at the market with EA’s Battlefield 2, developed by DICE. Battlefield 2 supplies those who yearn for a modern combat Battlefield game (since the other games were based on WWII, and Vietnam), by making all the stuff in the game, well, modern. There are tanks, jeeps, helicopters, and guns just like those that are being used in combat nowadays.

The traditional Battlefield formula has been preserved well in the demo I played at E3 for Battlefield 2. While the only mode that was allowed was multiplayer, there were eight people playing at the same time. Needless to say, once you got used to playing the game on a PS2 controller rather than a PC set-up, the game becomes fairly involving. As with the other Battlefield games, the game revolves around taking over and controlling all the spawn points as dictated by the map you play on. While you can have some very hard times making it to the point where you control all the flags in the game so that there is no spawn point for the other team (thus winning once all the remaining enemies are left on the map are killed, unless they take another flag over), you can win by killing members of the other team until all their tickets run out. Usually killing the other team for all their tickets would take a very long time (since you start out with a couple hundred usually), so it becomes the priority to take over all the spawn points.

The multiplayer-only demo I played for Battlefield 2: Modern Combat captured the same feeling as the other games in the series. Being able to chose one of five different positions in your respective team, you can be equipped with a special ops gun, an M16 with a grenade launcher, a sniper rifle, a rocket launcher, a shotgun and other secondary weaponry to help you in your conquest of the map. This allows for flexibility in what kind of gun you like to use, and you don’t mess around with picking up your gun off the floor.

The demo’s sound was excellent for being in such an early stage of development. Almost all parts of the gameplay were very good as well, but there were a couple of issues I did notice. A minor issue is when you move (with the left analog stick) and then let go of it, your player keeps moving afterwards, and it feels almost as if they are sliding. The other issue which is more annoying is the lack of precision using the right analog stick in aiming with your weapon. Hopefully these issues will be solved before it hits retail.

Though there was only one map available for play, it looked fairly nice. A lot of the objects and textures were sort of bland, but most likely the graphical look of the game will be improved as well.

Playing Battlefield 2 for about an hour, I can say that the development of the game is going well, and the game can only get better from what it is now.