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Notes on 13 random anime

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I've been watching a bunch of anime recently, so I thought I'd collect together some brief impressions on what I've seen. This baker's dozen is very much a mixed bag, so your mileage may vary. At the very least, Steins;Gate and Parasyte are highly recommended. A lot of these series are available to stream online from Crunchyroll or Netflix and are worth checking out.

Dragon Age: Inquisition (spoiler review)

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This game is beautiful. If I blame the limitations of the Xbox 360 for many of the drawbacks of DA2, then at least with DA:I we get an expansive game with amazing graphics that finally gives my GTX 970M something to do. Maybe the environments aren't quite up to the standard of the Witcher 3, but it is miles ahead of the previous two games. In many other aspects, DA:I synthesizes the best elements of DA:O and DA2, particularly in terms of combat and storyline. Combat is even more dynamic and immersive than DA2, but they've also introduced the option of a tactical view, which helps make combat more strategic. I switched between both, depending on how difficult the fight was and how many enemies I was facing. Some of the encounters are more difficult than DA2, and several times I faced a Total Party Kill. As for the story, more will be said below. It took me 84 hours for my first playthrough of the main storyline (not including the 3 expansions), so almost exactly the same as DA…

Dragon Age II (spoiler review)

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The least popular game in the Dragon Age trilogy, and I can see why. Gone are the excellent camera controls from the PC version of DA:O. Indeed, combat in general feels much more like a console RPG. In some ways, this is an improvement - the mage in particular is much more dynamic, and many fights are over quickly. Likewise, the Mass Effect style dialogue wheel means that Hawke, the player character in DA2, is no longer a silent protagonist (for better or worse). Some of his (or her) sarcastic comments are quite amusing, but Hawke lacks the dry wit of Geralt of Rivia.

Dragon Age: Origins (spoiler review)

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Unfortunately, my save files for the Isle of the Maker in NWN: Hordes of the Underdark were corrupted, so you'll have to wait a while for the next installment of that review. A colleague mentioned that Dragon Age: Origins was his favourite game of all time, so I decided to play that instead. It took me 85 hours for my first playthrough of the core game (without any expansions). My opinion (and many spoilers) are below.

Hearts of Stone (spoiler review)

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The first expansion pack for the Witcher 3 took me 22.5 hours to finish the main story quests. I'm glad I waited a couple of months before playing it, since the next expansion "Blood & Wine" still has no release date. I'll definitely be preordering as soon as its available. The following review contains plot details and spoilers for the game.


Hordes of the Underdark (spoiler review, part 1)

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This game starts in an inn. Not on the Plane of Shadow, where you fled as Undrentide crashed to the ground (if only Heroudis had flown her citadel above 1000 feet, like the wise Dagget Filth had advised...). Soon enough, the inn is under attack, thereby combining two of the laziest beginnings possible for a BioWare game. This hackery might be forgivable if they had leveled up my character to cover the gap in time, but oh well. Can NWN:HotU possibly live up to the example set by chapter 5 of Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn? We shall see...


Shadows of Undrentide

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When Neverwinter Nights was released in 2002, it had everything I wanted in a CRPG. In particular, Kal & I had tried the awful multiplayer in Baldur's Gate, but there's only so much of "you must gather your party before venturing forth" that we could put up with. I had enormous fun on the multiplayer servers, especially the persistent worlds. I spent quite a few hours in the level editor as well, dreaming of creating an electronic version of my pen & paper city, Helsmuth. However, I have never finished the single player game. I only ever made it as far as Chapter 2. Partly it was the sheer grind of tracking down the "Waterdhavian creatures," but mainly because it just couldn't compete with the experience of playing D&D in person. NWN did finally convince me to convert my game from 2nd edition to the 3rd edition rules, though, so there's that.

The main reason I decided to buy NWN Diamond from GoG was because NWN2 was too demanding for my …