I just now read the lengthy and solid Rock, Paper, Shotgun review of Dragon Age 2 that was posted last week. I still haven’t played DA2, and John Walker pretty much defined the main emotional, gut reason that I still don’t have any desire to do so.
“As a beginning it makes innumerous mistakes, but the most resounding is the complete sense of disconnect it gives you to your character. Picking him/her up in mid flow (for me it was a her, so for simplicity we’ll stick with that), she’s independent of you in her struggle. Not only is it made clear that the events you’re playing have already happened, but its emphasised upon you that you’re just an observer of an already complete family in the midst of their struggle.”
This is the main problem I also have with the Mass Effect franchise, which is also an RPG on rails where you play a defined character like in Heavy Rain, which isn’t considered an RPG at all. We might need a new term for what Bioware is doing.
I persistently can’t “get into” their main characters, because the character doesn’t feel like me, as in John Walker’s comment. I’m just watching someone else’s life play out and putting words in their mouth that are good, bad, or neutral, all nicely arranged for me on the dial so I don’t even have to use two brain cells in order to avoid a mistake.
Add this to the micro-transaction nonsense at the DA2 launch (having to pay extra to get the so-called ‘extras’ in the context of a down-sized game) and the McDonaldizing (dumbing the game systems down while filling up with more fattening action content) of the franchise, and I’m looking at making the classics at GoG my next games to play (Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate) after I hit cap in Rift. In those games I can play and develop a character that feels like mine.