The will likely be spoilers, but should I talk about something super new I'll warn ya. But consider this a pre-emptive warning! You're WARNED!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


My mobile phone, she is a simple thing. It makes calls and sends texts (or, more accurately, I make calls and send texts on it), but it does little else. There is a camera, but the quality of the photos is exceptionally sucky and further, I don't know how to get the photos off of there. I mean, I've got a picture of a door with a sign that says TOYLET PLEASE NOCK on there, and I can't really share it with the world. What's the point? Aside from the lovely built-in cameras, I don't envy people with their fancy iPhones and whatever else is out there. I don't need (or want) to check my email or what my cyberfriends are posting on Faceplace when I'm away from my computer. My brain is an old peoples' brain in that sort of regard; this incessant, constant attachment to The Internet (and each other) baffles me. But, you know. Whatevs.

However, my views don't mean that I fail to see how handy a mobile Internet can be. When a-browsin' and a-shoppin', I've often scolded my phone for not doing more. "If you were fancier," I say, "I could look up a review of this game/movie/thing I don't really need, and then I could make a more informed decision about whether or not to purchase it."

Understandably, my phone is usually put off by this. "You used to buy things- or not buy them- back in the days before The Internet. What did you do then, hmm? Besides, the reason I'm not fancier is because you don't really care about me. What's the point? Why should I be all nice and feature-laden and pricy when you ignore me? You let my battery die and don't charge me up for days. You forget where I am. You leave me in your car's glove compartment, cold and lonely amongst the maps and insurance information. Is this my fault? If I'm not everything you want me to be, then maybe you should look at yourself."

My instinct is to react harshly, to give my phone a rebuttal that ends with it in no less than four pieces on the sidewalk, but after a moment's pause, I realize that my phone is right. I also realize that it can do something besides take cruddy pictures of barely-literate gas station phone can connect to other phones, which allows me to talk to other people!

This is all my incredibly long-winded and pointless way of saying "I was at a Gamestop somewhat recently, and I came across a cheap game called Divinity II: Ego Draconis. I'd never heard of it, but it seemed like a Dragon Age-esque western RPG (be still my heart) and the Latin in the title intrigued me. However, "cheap" is still not "free", and I was unsure whether or not to pick it up. I would have asked for opinions from the Gamestop staff, but...well, come on. So, what to do? I stepped outside (don't want to be talky and rude in the store, you know) and called a friend, who looked up Divinity II on The Internet for me. The verdict seemed to be a decided 'not bad'. I was still intrigued, so I decided to pony up the cheap dollars and bring it home."

That was only marginally less long-winded than my original introduction, so I apologize.

In Divinity II, you begin on the path to becoming a Dragon Slayer, one who seeks out and kills Dragon Knights, people with the ability to transform into dragons. After a twist and turn or two, however, you are imbued with the power from Talana, a dying Dragon Knight. The hunter becomes the hunted! As kids from 20 years ago might say, "Oh snap."

There are standard fantasy RPG elements as you travel throughout Rivellon- fetch me this, kill some goblins that- but some tweaks to the formulae keep it fresh. For example, instead of the standard "choose your class" at the beginning (eg mage, rogue, or warrior), you can become any hybrid of the three that you wish. You can duel-wield weapons, pick locks, and cast spells. Mind you, if you spread out your skills too much when leveling up, there's a chance that you won't be strong in any of the classes- you can't learn everything about everything. I felt decently balanced, though, as a rogue who could cast healing and a few offensive spells.

Combat is pretty fun, if a bit stilted one way or another throughout the entire game. At low levels, I got my ass handed to me constantly, to the point where I couldn't advance the story because I was unable to defeat, you know, the 50 skeleton warriors hanging around outside the place I needed to go. At higher levels, though, I was all but unstoppable, laying waste to everyone around me.

This is definitely a western-flavored RPG, in that it's not turn based and conversation choices mean you can give your character- male or female- some personality. Only some, though, as the development isn't too deep. At one point, for example, a quest text entry says "Your parents would be proud."...but who the hell are my parents? Who the hell am I? The game begins as you're about to undertake the Dragon Slayer initiation, but any personal history you have prior to that is up to your brain.

There are some "moral choices" to be found, but they don't influence much beyond the immediate outcome. You can help Person A or Person B, but it won't have much of an impact on the game as a whole. Through dialogue, you can render yourself goody-goody, smartass, etc. There's no romance, but there's flirting...and there's a surprising amount of humor.

And yeeessssss, eventually you can transform into a fucking dragon! Fly around blasting shit with fire! Undeniably, it's sweet. You change form in a flash, making the transformation quick and smooth. It's a highlight that gives Divinity II an edge over games know, you can't turn into a dragon at will.

Overall, I really dug this game a lot. The graphics were nice- particularly the environments- and the gameplay was fast and fun. I don't want to give anything away, but I've read people complaining online (WEIRD, RIGHT?) about the ending, which is...a twist to say the least. Personally, I loved the big FUCK YOU it gives players as it sets up for the inevitable Divinity III. It's a dark semi-resolution, as you might expect from the middle chunk of a trilogy...I mean, if you learned anything from The Empire Strikes Back, LotR: The Two Towers, or even Mass Effect 2. Apparently there's content out there (downloadable on PC and...maybe Europe?) that adds an epilogue more satisfying to gamers. This content will be included with Divinity II's Xbox 360 re-release in April, Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga.

See, if I had an Internet phone and I looked up Ego Draconis that fateful day at Gamestop, I might've found out about that re-release and held off on a purchase. But what would I have done instead? Would I have bought another game? Where would I be in my life? Why, this could be a review of a CSI game or something! How strange.

Should you hold off? Perhaps. I'm not sure what the bonus content will do to the ending, but again, Ego Draconis is a satisfying, complete game. Though lengthy, it's not as deep and complex as Dragon Age, but again again- you can turn into a GD dragon! If you like western RPGs, you could do much worse than giving it a go.

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