I'm a science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction writer by trade, but aside from writing, video games are my biggest passion. I also write over at Gamer Limit.
The first console my brothers and I ever got was an SNES for Christmas one year. Since then, we've owned an N64, Playstation, PS2, and an Xbox 360. I got a Gameboy Color one year for Christmas, but my brothers are more into handheld gaming than me. Every time they upgrade to the latest system I get their hand-me-downs. That's how I obtained my GBA and my two DS's. Handheld gaming for some reason doesn't interest me even though I know there are great games out there. The first console I've ever been the exclusive owner of is my PS3. The first games I ever played were Super Mario World, F-Zero, 7th Saga (which I've written about), and Out of This World.
My favorite genres are RPGs (Western or Japanese), FPS, action/adventure, and RTS (even though I suck at them).
On March 8, my copy of Dragon Age II arrived. Little did I know that this title was going to change my life.
Dragon Age II is not a perfect game. Itís not even close to perfect. But since it came out, I havenít taken it out of my PS3ís disc tray. Iíve sunk hour after hour into Hawkeís story and the city of Kirkwall. And as I continued to play, something peculiar happened. My trophy count went higher and higher. Then I realized what was happening. I was on my way to earning 100% of the trophies. Before I knew it I was in pursuit of platinum.
Ellie Hawke--the most badass 2-handed warrior Kirkwall has ever seen
Right off the bat, I have to say that I donít care about gamer scores or trophies that much. I know how other Destructoid writers feel about them and that's fine. I like earning the points/icons/what have you, but in no way do I think that they mark me as a better gamer. If somebody has more points than me, it just means that he or she has probably played more games than me. Simple as that. My gamer score is not how I measure my e-penis. (True story: I do that with an e-yardstick, Ďcause itís e-normous.)
I enjoy getting trophies and achievements because I treat them as little extra challenges the games throw at me. Beat a level and find all the little collectibles hidden inside it? Okay, will do. Iím a completionist anyway, so these kinds of tasks appeal to me.
Dragon Age II wove a spell over me (Chantry approved of course. No blood magic here). Unlike Mass Effect 2, which I believe to be a superior game, it forced me to role play. I wasnít choosing dialogue choices because I wanted to max out my Paragon or Renegade scores. I was choosing the dialogue options that I wanted, usually the ďsmartassĒ responses because thatís how I respond in a lot of situations. Say what you want about Bioware ďdumbingĒ down the game and the conversation choices, but I had to think more about what I was going to say in this game than I did in both Mass Effectís.
Towards the end of the game I did a brutal companion quest for Merrill. Not because it was hard, but because of what was happening on the screenóthings my character, my Hawke was doing because of my actions. I couldnít change them. Merrill had decided her fate, and for better or worse, I was a part of it. Hawke had to reap what she sowed, and by extension so did I.
Iíd never felt like that from a game before. Iíve seen things from all ends of the spectrumófrom touching to horrifying. For example, the twist in Bioshock really hit me because even though I played it for the first time in 2009 I managed to avoid spoilers. Dragon Age II actually forced me to feel for the characters and experience the consequences of my actions.
After I beat it for the first time, I willingly dove back into the rapidly deteriorating city of Kirkwall for a second playthrough. I wanted to do things differently. It was only by accident that I saw that I was only a handful of trophies away from obtaining the platinum.
Iíve gotten close to platinum before, once with inFamous and once with Assassinís Creed II. But I really only kept playing those games to satisfy my completionist tendencies. Dragon Age II is a game I wanted to play again so I could experience everything. And if doing everything gets me a platinum trophy, then I had to go for it. This flawed, rushed game compelled me to conquer it. This wasnít a chore like some other games Iíve played. This pursuit of platinum was a joy.
(Note: Iím 80% of the way there, but I only have 6 trophies left to get. Iím in Act III right now and will easily get them before I beat the game again.)
(Note 2: As of 1:02 am on Saturday I beat the game for a second time. The trophy is mine. Now hopefully I remembered to keep saves for both sets of clear data.)
Addendum: Apparently this is not meant to be. The trophy ďEpicĒ is known to have bugs. There are other threads where people are having the same problem. Youíre supposed to get it if you either: beat the game once and import a save from Origins or just beat the game twice. Since I donít have Dragon Age Origins, I went the beat the game twice route. I guess Iíll have to wait for a patch. It really doesnít matter in the long run. I know that I got 100% of the achievements. I know that I squeezed every single drop of entertainment from the game. Thatís what matters more than a little icon in my trophy list. I just wouldíve liked to see the little thing pop up, but thatís life.