The Dragon Age/Mass Effect Battle Royale!
There seems to be a huge divide in some sections of the gamer world. You are either a Dragon Age person or you are a Mass Effect person. Me, I love both gaming franchises, and in the past year (after a video card upgrade) I have become a huge Bioware fangirl. But it got me to thinking… is one better than the other? Let’s find out by comparing a few key elements to find out who comes out on top.
For all it’s blood and doom and gloom, Dragon Age is surprisingly hilarious. Every single character has funny lines. Alistair had me laughing out loud with his nervous self conscious flirting, as did Zevran with his leather fetish. The banter between characters as you wander Ferelden is equally priceless. It’s Oghren, however, with his drunken tirades and puzzling innuendos who steals the comedic limelight.
This space opera is much more serious, but it does have it’s share of funny moments. Most of the crew got a funny line or two, and background characters were especially funny. But there is one crew member who is especially hilarious. From breaking into song to his rambling matter-of-fact observations, Mordin had me giggling every time he opened his mouth, and I often took him along on missions just to hear what he had to say.
Winner: Dragon Age
Yes, Mass Effect is humorous. But every single character in Dragon Age is funny as hell and has his or her side-splitting moments. Dragon Age is a clear winner here.
Ferelden is a lot more loose with sexuality. There’s all kinds of fun combination to be had. Male/female, female/female, male/elf, female/male/female/pirate/elf… Of course, romance is more than just sex. Play your cards right, and you could end up a queen with a sweet and handsome royal bastard. Or a king with an icy power-hungry queen. Or hunt down the woman you love who is carrying your evil Elder God seed. It’s sad that you can only pick between good girl/boy and bad girl/boy for a lover, though. Also irksome? No romance option in the expansion pack.
Commander Shepard is a bit more limited. In the first game, the only options are male/female or human/alien. Sure, the Asari are supposed to be genderless, but they are anything but androgynous. Sorry gay boy gamers. The sequel gives you more to pick from, including a few new aliens to try the nookie with, but again the homosexual male option is non-existent. ME2 is great in giving you a number of different personality types in a lover to choose. Sure, there’s the bad girl (who kills you with sex), but there’s also the girl harboring a crush, the confident woman with conflicting feelings, the sweet redhead with an enlightened attitude about sex, and the psycho bad girl who really just wants to be loved. Also, head bumps.
Winner: Dragon Age
While ME2 gives you a wider variety of personalities to pick from and build a solid and sometimes deeper relationship with, it’s lack of a decent homosexual option drops it into second place.
For the most part you fight the darkspawn in Dragon Age. Sure, you get an occasional bandit gang or templars that you might have pissed off. But largely it’s darkspawn with the occasional ogre thrown in to make things interesting. And by interesting I mean piss your pants the first couple times it comes stomping over the hill. The big baddie is the Archdemon, which is a dragon. You’ve already fought a couple before getting to the big baddie, so this is another one that ends the game when you kill it.
In the morally gray Mass Effect, everyone can be a baddie. There’s human factions, mercenary bands, nefarious corporations, terrorist cells, and even your friends can be turned into technozombies. But while you’re busy trying to figure out who your enemies are and convincing everyone else who the enemies are, there are still the Reapers. Giant technologically advanced creatures that have been planning your demise since mankind’s ancestors first crawled out of the primordial ooze.
Winner: Mass Effect
If you didn’t crap yourself at the end of Mass Effect 2 when an entire army of Reapers appeared from the darkness and headed towards Earth, you aren’t getting enough fiber in your diet. You yourself never beat a Reaper. In the first game it takes an entire fleet of ships to bring down ONE.
- “Swooping is bad.”
- “Have you ever licked a lamp post in winter?”
- “By the tits of my ancestors!”
- “Can it wait for a bit? I’m in the middle of some calibrations.”
- “I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite store on the Citadel.”
- “That means Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest-son-of-a-bitch in space!”
- “Hold the line!”
- “I had reach, but she had flexibility.”
- “Assuming direct control.”
- “Ah yes. ‘Reapers.’”
Winner: Mass Effect
Let’s face it. While Dragon Age was funnier, Mass Effect had better writing. It’s a lot easier to remember great lines from ME than DA. Which makes them memorable. Granted, most of these lines are memorable because you heard them over and over and over again. But they are far more meme-worthy.
Let’s see. There are elves and there are dwarves, both of which you are already familiar with if you’ve ever read/watched Tolkien, played WoW, Dungeons and Dragons, or been exposed to any kind of fantasy genre in the past 50 years. Nothing all that new here, except for maybe having elves as servants and second class citizens. We’ve also got the new addition of the qunari, who apparently have horns in the sequel. I think they’re just bigger and stronger, but it looks like Dragon Age 2 is going to shed more light on this race. And I guess there’s darkspawn, too. But those are really just orcs.
Taking place in space opens up a whole mess of options for alien races. The etheral Asari with the ability to mind meld and impressive biotic powers. The proud and disciplined turians make excellent soldiers while still harboring some ill will towards humans. The unstoppable krogan are struggling to keep their species alive. The gypsy quarians battle infections and are unmatched in technical skill. Then there’s the salarians, the drell, the hanar, the batarians, the elcor, and the volus. To name a few.
Winner: Mass Effect
Okay, so Mass Effect is at a bit of an advantage here. They have a lot more races, all of which are fleshed out with expansive and deep histories. To quote Kaidan Alenko, the aliens aren’t all that different from humans, “they’re jerks and saints, just like us.”
In this game you have a choice of three classes: warrior, rogue, and mage. The warrior is pretty self explanatory, and he or she has the option of specializing in two handed weapons or shield. The rogue is cool in the ability to pickpocket, turn invisible, and either dual wield weapons or rain down terror from afar with his arrows. Mages, however, really kick ass. They can shapeshift into giant spiders, use blood magic, raise the dead, and turn their enemies into walking bombs.
There’s three classes in Mass Effect as well, with the ability to straddle two at a time if you’re so inclined. There’s biotic powers, technician powers, and… guns. Sure, biotics are cool, being able to lift things. And push things. And push things really hard. Technicians can hack things. And then you can also shoot things.
Winner: Dragon Age
Come on. You can turn into a giant spider!! The mage soundly kicks the asses of every other class in either game. So much cooler. The ability to specialize your character in so many cool ways also nudges Dragon Age into the lead in this category. No contest here, this is an easy win for DA.
The special warrior class in the Dragon Age universe is known as the Grey Wardens. Hand picked recruits are forced to drink the blood of the darkspawn to grant them special powers. One of these powers is the ability to sense darkspawn and be far more effective at killing them. The downside, however, is the fact that the blood is poisonous and many recruits don’t survive the Joining. Becoming a Grey Warden also shortens your life span, makes you less fertile, and you will slowly go insane.
The Spectres of the Mass Effect universe are elite agents working on behalf of the Council. They’re pretty much able to do whatever they want in completing their mission. It’s sort of like a murderous diplomatic immunity, so long as they don’t go too far off the rails. Most of the underworld is terrified of the Spectres in that they are allowed to kill pretty much anyone, no questions asked. They’ve also got access to Spectre armor, weapons, and sometimes sweet rides. Spectres don’t have the advantage of magical powers from tainted blood, every one of their talents is achieved through hard work and training.
Winner: Mass Effect
It’s undeniable that the Grey Wardens are more metal. But the fact that you’ve got a 50/50 shot of making it through the Joining alive makes us a bit squeamish. We’d much rather be a Spectre than a Grey Warden. There doesn’t seem to be as many downsides to being a Spectre.
Dragon Age: 3
Mass Effect: 4
Overall Winner: Mass Effect
Is this list in any way definitive? No, of course not, don’t be ridiculous. Hell, this is just my opinion. And I know, I didn’t include combat or story or whatever else you might come up with in the comments. Those categories depend a lot on personal taste, for instance if you prefer shooters over tactical hack and slashes. I did try to be as objective as possible, I swear! But do tell me what I forgot that would tip the scales in either favor in the comments below.