Dragon Age 2, produces a mixed bag which has left me cold. Why? I have pondered this.

DA2 touches on the usual Bioware conventions of a characters journey and development, though it has decided to frame the entire story as a conquest of a single city. Everything is centred around Kirkwall, and your journey is one forged by relationships. So in that sense it is an interesting, bold idea. Progression not through the distance on a map, but through the hearts of peoples. What I see has happened as a result however is the story becomes a crutch, an ambitious crutch, for the game itself which essentially runs in circles. You have to really be sold on the concept of Kirkwall, because there is little else. It frustrated the hell out of me, because I love being a virtual tourist and visiting varied exotic locales. Eventually the drab repetitiveness of everything caused me to admit I wasn’t having fun anymore, and I will likely not bother to spend any more time on the game.

So I have been playing Jade Empire, my shame game dejour. I had always thought of it as the outsider of the Bioware RPG lineup. I have heard people talk about it with the same mixed feelings I hear for DA2 . For me however, something has worked for me here. It has a great sense of folklore and magic, combined with some Kung Fu culture. Not a terribly deep RPG (stats wise), per se, but the acquisition of different martial arts styles as a means of special abilities and magic really make this into an interesting action/rpg experience unlike what I have played before.
I definitely have enjoyed the varied locales and some of the zany characters. Its also quite a beautiful game. A lot of colour, and impressive lighting for its time. Of course one of my favourite bits of any Bioware game is the attention to culture and folklore. There is a nice mish mash of influences in Jade Empire which really make the game stand out. Having a good time with it.

In another note … Steam Sale has ensured I wont be bored for some time.