Dragon Age Dilemma

Take a look at the Metacritic page for “Dragon Age II.” Notice anything…wrong? Anything strike you as unusual there? Have you ever seen a game get that high a critical score, and simultaneously that low a user response? Especially from a fan favorite studio like Bioware, this is insanely unusual. You’re dealing here with a good game that the fans don’t like. What went wrong?

I won’t go into a long thing here, because I think the reason for this backlash is very simple. You’ll have to hit the jump to find out what they did wrong, though.

Ah, there you are, Dear Reader. Like I was saying, Bioware made a simple mistake: fixing what isn’t broken. They had a brilliant strategy with their side-by-side franchises of “Dragon Age” and “Mass Effect,” and now, against sound advice, they’re beginning to cross-pollinate. People liked the original! It won every award in existence and sold millions of copies! For the love of God, guys, stay the bloody course!

"Hey, can I hang out with you guys?"

I did not care for “Dragon Age: Origins;” indeed, I didn’t even finish it. But that’s okay, because I had “Mass Effect,” which I desire, in all earnestness, to have sex with. Now you’ve got your two star players stepping on each other’s toes. Why on God’s green Earth would you open up a market of hard-core, “gimme the inventory management” RPG fans and then just walk away from it, Bioware? Do you not like money? Do you not like being rich?

Yes, the changes you made are superficial in many ways, and sure, some of them are even improvements. But if you stand there and deny that you were trying to make DA2 a “Mass Effect” clone I will punch a stray dog.

The whole thing was like a scene from “Vertigo,” with Jimmy Stewart dressing up Kim Novak in the image of another woman. Here, “Dragon Age,” wear this modern-looking menu system. And this forced last name for the main character. And this new dialog style. You look so pretty.

"Do you love me enough to give up your turn-based combat?"

The worst part is, I don’t know if you can go back now. Franchises have to have forward momentum, they often don’t recover from this kind of lost, wayward soul-searching. Not to mention, you’re still competing with yourself, because “Mass Effect” just gets stronger every go-round, and even the nerdiest sword-and-dragons fan is eventually going to decide he’d rather invest his time with a winner.

Get back on track, guys. If it’s not too late.