Saturday, April 24, 2010

Free loot for clicking!

More Dragon Age, and, I must admit, I have another complaint: why am I the only one who can do everything awesome?

I found the journal of a scholar-priest.  He said he'd been studying these Chasind Trail Signs, trying to understand their meaning, believing they led to treasure of some sort but unable to completely decipher them.  I read his entry, and suddenly I'm an expert.  I find them all, and the cache, with no more than a clickety-doo.  This strikes me as a little unfair.  I've always wondered how game characters who aren't the protagonist feel.  Probably quite insignificant in their accomplishments.

Nevertheless, I stole some things, killed some guys, met a pretty (?) lady and drank some blood.  Mmmm, taintalicious.  Excuse me for getting a little excited when Alistair said there was one last thing before the Joining could be completed.  Unfortunately, he only handed me a necklace.  Well, at least it's a start.

I guess heroes are only ordinary people who do extraordinary things.  Maybe no one else would really stop to help the mabari hound.  Maybe I'm being genuinely rewarded.  Certainly being born with a plot-related constitution for imbibing tainted blood is believable in an 'I can't believe it's not butter!' way.  And if I am the one who collected all those vials of Darkspawn blood and rifled through all their clothing to take their loose change, I probably got some of their blood in my cuts already, thereby kind of making the Joining moot.

I was kind of hoping for at least a little bit of innuendo, though.

No, it would have spoiled the moment.  But at least now I can go on my merry way, unfettered by the shackles of extraneous party members.  I will remember you, brave Daveth and... that other guy.  Jory.  I knew that.  Although, you know, if the flower of the Wilds can help a mabari hound overcome his exposure to the taint, you'd think they could mix it in with the blood to give their new recruits a little more of a fighting chance.  Either that or the flower was for something else.  Clearly I was paying attention.

I was probably distracted by the player choice, "I swear I'm the bravest one here, and I'm a woman!"  No, really?  That couldn't have been 'elf'?  But I suppose it's multi-purposefully offensive, since you'd get that line no matter what race you played.  Honestly, the opening sequence in the Arl's castle gave me so much hope that I could be a strong, independent woman recognised for her merit rather than her gender.  Simply the fact that I'm the one choosing to bring my gender into the equation doesn't make it okay.  I joke about Alistair, but a soldier is a soldier, or should be.  You wouldn't see the line, "I swear I'm the bravest one here, and I'm a man!"  That means it's a double standard.  Double standards tend to make people angry.

Or maybe it's just my over-developed sense of justice (I want to say vengeance... silly Princess Bride quoting reflex).  Maybe they didn't have any women playtest this part, though I find that hard to believe, especially as some of their most prominent writers are women.  Since I've spotted two spelling errors already, perhaps their QA department simply ran out of time.  But despite all the work the game is doing to immerse me, nothing punches me back to reality faster than the old gender divide.

I still remember Neverwinter Nights 1: if you chose to be a woman, the description went something like, "The women of Faerun are the equal of men and can excel in any area they choose."  It made me chuckle, because it was protesting a little too much, but at least it was protesting.  Dragon Age may as well have told me I run like I girl.  Actually, she runs like a monkey.

Of course I'll keep playing, but notice my disapproving frown.  You'll need to work extra hard to win me back after that one, make-believe-but-a-little-too-real-fantasy-world.

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