The Sonic Saber: “Dragon Age: Inquisition World and Character Specifics Revealed”

daifullcover

Just a short post today to highlight my latest article over at The Sonic Saber, this time a feature on the Dragon Age: Inquisition news revealed this week in the September issue of Game Informer.

Here’s an excerpt from my post:

The central plot mechanic seems to be a throwback to Dragon Age: Origins, where the player character traveled around Fereldan with the Grey Warden treaties, recruiting an army to end the Blight. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, the player will instead amass an army to solidify his or her own power. Developers have emphasized that each player can choose whether to side with or against the mages or Templars. As Inquisitor, the player has the option to use either diplomacy or violence to win over allies, similar to the Paragon and Renegade system in the Mass Effect titles.

While you’re at it, check out the Game Informer series of online features, “covering everything from combat to character creation.”

I for one think that this game is going to be one to remember—a true spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate, and the sequel that Dragon Age II should have been but wasn’t. BioWare has done a commendable job of listening to feedback from gamers and striving to combine all the best elements from both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II. If all goes well, the end product should be an impressive open-world experience woven tightly together by a central storyline and a charismatic player character.

At least, that’s what envision for Dragon Age: Inquisition. We’ll need to wait (albeit impatiently) for the next year to find out if I’m right.

The Best of Fantasy Music

Of all the nerd debates, perhaps none is so cherished as the sacred tradition of the “book vs. movie” debate. What scenes were left out? What memorable quotes were altered? How well do the actors resemble the characters we’d pictured in our minds?

Anyone who’s engaged in such a debate knows, it can get bloody—especially when a die-hard fan of the books goes head-to-head with a movie fan who’s never read them.

But amidst the carnage, there’s one truth we can all agree on: Only a truly masterful composer can breathe life into the fantasy worlds we love, capturing their beauty, tragedy, and badassery.

Today, I want to showcase the very best of fantasy-inspired music. These are the tracks I come back to again and again, to relax at the end of a long day or find inspiration when writer’s block kicks in.

Although these are my personal favorites, they’re certainly not the only examples of awesome fantasy music out there. If you like my list, I recommend checking out Radio Rivendell, a commercial-free online radio playing fantasy music ’round the clock. It’s perfect if you need some background music while you’re plowing through homework.

Top 15 Fantasy Music Tracks

(in no particular order)

1. “Finale”
Album: Game of Thrones – Music From The HBO Series
Composer: Ramin Djawadi
Kailey’s Note: This theme gives me shivers every goddamn time. It is eerily subtle and entrancing, without question the perfect accompaniment for the epic finale of “Game of Thrones” Season 1. The rising crescendo really drives home the massive scale of the world George R. R. Martin created. Every aspiring fantasy author hopes to write a novel worthy of this music. I know I do.

2. “Dragonborn”
Album: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Original Game Soundtrack
Composer: Jeremy Soule
Kailey’s Note: FUS RO DAH!!!


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PlayStation 4: A Lot of Dazzle and Hype for a PC in Disguise

If you didn’t get chills when Sony opened the PlayStation 2013 event with the retro PS1 startup music, you must not have lived a PlayStation childhood like I did.

The PlayStation wasn’t my first console. (That would be the NES.) It also wasn’t my last console. (A few years ago I finally bought an Xbox 360.) Lately, I’ve even ventured into PC gaming. But PlayStation will forever hold a special place in my heart.

We never owned an Atari, a  Super Nintendo, a Nintendo 64, a GameCube, or a Dreamcast. All we had was our PlayStation.

When I say “we” I mean my brother and I. He’s 14 months younger. As kids, we were inseparable. I don’t even know how many hours we spent in front of the PlayStation, playing “Crash Bandicoot,” “Herc’s Adventures,” and “Casper.” Crash was our incontestable favorite. When my brother and I played pretend, we imagined that we were Crash and Coco Bandicoot, on a mission to save the world. We made a cardboard replica of Aku-Aku, or as we called him, “The Oobi-digah.” I know it’s still lying around here somewhere. We wouldn’t throw away a memory like that.

So was I excited to tune in for Wednesday’s unveiling of the PS4?

Hell yeah!

Was I still as excited by the end of the event?

Well…yes and no.


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Beating Four Video Games In One Month? Hells yeah!

Two days ago, I spied this motivational article over at Kotaku.com, and I’ve decided that I’m going to commit to “Four in February.” That means I’m going to beat four games that I’ve never finished in just one month.

Holy crap.

I’ve referred to myself as a gamer on this blog, but the sad truth is that I don’t spend enough time playing video games to become a better gamer. I’m ready for that to change. So, beginning February 1, I’m challenging myself to play around 50 hours of gamplay and complete four different games in 28 days.

Here are my “Four in February” picks:

Mass Effect

1) Mass Effect: 10 – 15 hours (Xbox 360)
I currently have two Mass Effect playthroughs going, and I haven’t gotten far in either of them. The first is the playthrough I’m doing with my fiance, who is a huge fan of the Mass Effect franchise. We’re playing the standard-issue “Soldier” Shepard with the Spacer/War Hero background.

Then there’s my own playthrough, in which I play a badass custom FemShep named Aubrey with the Earthborn/Sole Survivor background. I chose the Infiltrator class, which means her skills are balanced between Tech and Combat. I think my most recent save is on the Citadel, just after Shepard’s big promotion to Spectre status. Those of you familiar with Mass Effect know that I’ve barely scratched the surface of the plot at this point.

It’s my FemShep playthrough that I’ll be completing for “Four in February.”

Now, I’ve been told that this game can be finished in 10-15 hours, if you stick to the main plotline and don’t wander off to do a lot of side quests, so that’s what I plan to do. If I tried to go for a thorough playthrough, I could end up clocking 40+ hours just for Mass Effect, which wouldn’t leave me a whole lot of time for my three other games.
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In Defense of Violence in Video Games

Xbox 360 Controller by Chris J Bowley, on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Before I get started, I want to be clear—violent video games can inspire acts of real-world violence. Of course they can. To argue otherwise would be naive at best and dishonest at worst. This blog post isn’t a discussion about whether or not we should keep violent games out of children’s hands (of course we should!), but rather a counterargument to the unfair misconception that violent games are inherently corruptive and devoid of cultural value.

For the last few weeks, the buzz in the gaming industry has been all about violence in video games. On January 11, Vice President Biden sat down with executives to start up a dialogue on the industry’s social responsibility. The New York Times reported:

With the Newtown, Conn., massacre spurring concern over violent video games, makers of popular games like Call of Duty and Mortal Kombat are rallying Congressional support to try to fend off their biggest regulatory threat in two decades.

The $60 billion industry is facing intense political pressure from an unlikely alliance of critics who say that violent imagery in video games has contributed to a culture of violence. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. met with industry executives on Friday to discuss the concerns, highlighting the issue’s prominence.

No clear link has emerged between the Connecticut rampage and the gunman Adam Lanza’s interest in video games. Even so, the industry’s detractors want to see a federal study on the impact of violent gaming, as well as cigarette-style warning labels and other measures to curb the games’ graphic imagery.

Though the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary has not been linked to violent video games, that hasn’t stopped some from taking aim at the industry. In Southington, Conn., just a 30-minute drive from Newtown, the local community organized a buyback of violent video games, which they later burned. The Guardian reported that the group doesn’t blame video games for the Newtown tragedy, but believes that violent games desensitize children to acts of violence.

Call of Siberian by Sibeckham, on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Last week, President Obama announced new measures to curb gun violence, including a call for Congress to put $10 million into a study commission on the relationship between video games and violence.

It’s unlikely that we’ll see any meaningful legislation come of all this, but it’s obvious that violent video games are a concern for many—be they parents or politicians.

But both parents and politicians suffer a fundamental misunderstanding about violent games, borne of the fact that they themselves don’t play video games. For most parents, listening to a gamer defend violence in games is like listening to a crack whore defend cocaine. In their minds, we become part of the evil that must be stamped out in order to protect their children.

Well, I may not be a crack whore, but I am a gamer, and I take offense to that.

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The Sonic Saber: “Rumored PS4, Xbox 720 Specs Circulate the Web”

Good morning, Internet denizens!

While I work on getting “COFFEE AND DRAGONS” up and running for Tuesday’s reboot, you can check out my latest nerdy blog post over at “The Sonic Saber.”

"The Sonic Saber"

“The Sonic Saber” is a geek blog that covers all the latest news about movies, TV shows, video games, comics, and more. My friend Dave owns the site, and he has an especial love of all things Star Wars, for those of you who (like me) grew up pretending that your baseball bat was a lightsaber.

I just uploaded a new post to the site, titled “Rumored PS4, Xbox 720 Specs Circulate the Web.” In the article, I talk about how the PS4 and Xbox 720 reportedly match up on computational power and RAM, as well as the rumored 2013 release dates for both machines.

Even if next-gen gaming doesn’t interest you, please do take a few minutes to go check out “The Sonic Saber.” I think you’ll find something there you’re bound to like.