Another day, another hacking story full of lulz. This one's a little bit different though; the laughs don't come courtesy of Lulz Security or Anonymous, for the first time in what seems like ages. What's amusing about this story is the target! Hit videogame maker BioWare announced late yesterday that user account data may have been stolen in a recent server breach. That's not funny. What is funny: the server was a 10 year old community server that handled the "Neverwinter Nights" forums. While LulzSec recently ravaged Bethesda in search of Skyrim screenshots, the BioWare hacker apparently prefers his RPGs well-aged.
Dragon Age II was a mess. We don't mean that as a damning statement, either. It was simply an undifferentiated jambalaya of half-baked ideas both good and bad. Whether due to rushed development, lack of a cohesive vision, or something else entirely, the game failed to glue all its puzzle pieces together in a meaningful fashion. So yes, a mess. Fortunately, EA's not planning on leaving DAO fans high-and-dry just because DA II made waves on the sales charts.
Here’s a transmission we just received from E3 that says there IS a real-life alien invasion happening, and we ARE all going to die! And it’s happening worldwide! The French are calling it an ‘attaque globale’! I don’t speak French, but I think that means a global attack! There’s a race of sentient spaceships come back to kill us all! Why did no-one tell us about this before!
Oh no wait, it’s just a mad live-action teaser trailer for Mass Effect 3. Phew, eh?
Dragon Age II, we wanted to love you, but you made it so damn hard. Whether it was your three whole environments, your confusingly bloated navigation system, or your guards' inability to suspect that maybe – just maybe – the folks with robes, silly hats, and sparkly staves might be mages, your innumberable rough edges cut us deep. We're willing to give your franchise a second chance, definitely, but another sequel? So soon? Let's not rush into things.
Life's absolute certainties can be counted on a single hand. Death and taxes are the cliches, of course, but can you guess the third? That's right: When BioWare promises us the galaxy (or threeofthem in one year, to be more precise), there will be delays. And there will be much weeping, gnashing of teeth, and hours spent mining. Because at least it's something to fill the Krogan-sized hole in your heart.
Like Origins, Dragon Age II is a 50-plus-hour epic with a deep, complex combat system and a well-defined supporting cast. But it also wears its mythology proudly, confident in its goal of charting the rise of a complete and utter badass: you.
The first time you control Hawke—the hero—is in an opening flashback to your family’s escape from the Darkspawn attack on Lothering, which occurred in the first game. Dragon Age: Origins’ free battlefield camera is now gone, but at least the mouse-wheel scroll still grants the zoom you need to see the full field. Pausing, issuing a set of orders, then sitting back and watching the chaos unfold remains a joy that never gets old.
We're still not entirely sure if we believe BioWare will be able to have Mass Effect 3 polished to a space-aged sheen in time for a 2011 release, but this certainly has us hopeful. If we normally call these things “scoops,” then BioWare's given Game Informer one of those comically tall ice cream cones normally reserved for slapstick gags in cartoons. Want to know nearly everything about Mass Effect 3? Well, have at it.
Say what you will about Dragon Age II (here, we'll help: “dumbed-down,” “consolized,” and “ignorant argument against homosexuality” are the popular ones), but you might want to think twice before booting BioWare out of your life forever. After all, whether you liked Dragon Age II or not, the RPG powerhouse is still quite thankful that you bought it. So thankful, in fact, that its passing out free copies of its space opera opus Mass Effect 2 – no strings attached.
While most MMOs remain content to eke out a decent existence in WoW's shadow, EA's not making any bones about its main target for TOR's Death Star cannon. For BioWare's latest, it's WoW or bust. So, how do you take down the biggest kid on the playground? Well, probably avoid the tag “Grocery Store Simulator,” for one.
It's no exaggeration to say that the eyes of the entire MMO world are on Star Wars: The Old Republic right now. Hell, even the guys and gals with the inspirational “I kicked the habit and you can too!” stories typically add a defeated “...but I don't think I'll be able to resist The Old Republic.” And now, BioWare's offering an opportunity for you to get an early start on what's sure to be a beautiful, fun, and – most importantly – completely debilitating relationship.
Over on the official Star Wars: The Old Republic website, BioWare's begun accepting another round of sign-ups for the soon-to-begin closed beta test. Simply create a TOR community account, head over to the Game Testing Portal, and – quick as Jar-Jar Binks laying waste to someone's childhood – you're in!
Granted, we're still talking closed beta here, so no matter how badly you want to take the game for a test drive, you won't get a golden ticket unless you meet BioWare's “specific requirements” for this test.
So, with all that said, we have to ask: what are you still doing here? Go! Sign up now or risk playing the game at the same time as everyone else like some kind of filthy videogame peasant.