Over the past year or so, I’ve been rediscovering my gaming feet. So far that has involved returning to some old favourites (Sims 3, The Hitman series, Deus Ex, Deus Ex: Invisible War, Call of Duty 1 and 2), looking wistfully at older favourites (the Myst series, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Diablo/Diablo II [stop laughing, Niklas]); and turning over some others I’ve not yet given a full test run (Indigo Prophecy, Black & White 2).
This also means that I have a shopping list:
The Sims Medieval
From lovingly (or perversely) taking Sim-people from infancy to old age and making their life’s decisions such as those of career, family and personal development, we Sims players thought we’d covered it all. What next could these people at EA possibly dream up to make it all new and fresh yet again?
Enter The Sims Medieval, which keeps the Sims engine and with it brings the Middle Ages to life. With this move, the franchise also takes a teeny little step away from strategy and into the realm of role-playing games (RPG). You start off by building a kingdom — an “authentic” historical one — and then embark on an adventure filled with quests that bring rewards to the kingdom, finally adding up towards achieving your kingdom ambition.
The RPG aspects include creating heroes, building their skills and sending them on quests. Heroes include monarchs, wizards, spies, priests, blacksmiths, physicians, knights, merchants and bards. Needless to say, they have different skills and roles.
“A world of Sims filled with stories, adventures, romance, drama and comedy,” promises EA. It gets a rating of 8.5 out of 10 from IGN.
Dragon Age II
It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to sink my teeth into a good, solid RPG and Dragon Age II seems to be it. You play the role of Hawke, arriving in the state of Kirkwall, having survived what happened at the end of Dragon Age: Origins. In true RPG style, as Hawke, you may be a warrior, mage or rogue — male or female.
Once again, this game gets an 8.5 from IGN and PCGamer calls it an “RPG epic”. Reviews rave about the ease and smoothness of combat — something that I’ve found has been sorely lacking in many RPGs. It also features a ten-year-long story arc, and every choice you make has repercussions.
Another reason this game catches attention is the unrestricted romance options, and BioWare must take a bow for doing their bit to make gaming inclusive. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by Some People. One example is a post in their forums saying that Dragon Age II has “neglected The Straight Male Gamer” given the way sexuality is set up in the game. To which David Gaider of BioWare responds:
The romances in the game are not for “the straight male gamer”. They’re for everyone…. The “rights” of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else….
You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want….
Romances are never one-size-fits-all, and even for those who don’t mind the sexuality issue there’s no guarantee they’ll find a character they even want to romance. That’s why romances are optional content. It’s such a personal issue that we’ll never be able to please everyone. The very best we can do is give everyone a little bit of choice, and that’s what we tried here.
And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that’s my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.
(Read the whole story here if you want.)
The only reason that’s stopping me from hitting the “Buy” button on Flipkart.com, with their lovely discounts, is that my optical drive has inexplicably stopped working. Oh well, it won’t stay broken for long!