BioWare is probably my favorite video game company (only the likes of Square and Capcom come close), and I honestly found out late yesterday that it was their 20th anniversary. I tried to think of something I could do to honor them that wouldn't take up a brutal amount of time. You know, cuz I found out so late. So I figured what better way than to count down my top five BioWare games? Some stipulations include: one per series, and, well, I guess that's it. So yeah, I'll get on with it. Also, keep in mind that I haven't gotten around to Baldur's Gate II. Therefore I don't feel comfortable considering it for this list.
5. Jade Empire -
Jade Empire is easily one of the most action-oriented games from a company that's been RPG-centric for most of their lifespan. That being said, it's still heavily rooted in tactics, leveling talents to accommodate your play style, and a rich story full of choices to make that affect the world around you. The combat is also profoundly deep. Not only can you level attributes, but there are also many combat styles that you can choose from, meaning you have to really try to make multiple playthroughs feel the same. I absolutely adored this game when I first played through it. It was pure majesty throughout. Unfortunately, one massive issue keeps it from being higher on my list. I think it's half of a game. About 15-20 hours in basically a huge event happens and you end up retreating and starting to build up an army. Maybe two hours later, the game is over. it was a good ending, but it feels like so much plot and build-up was literally cut from the game. It easily could have been, and I think it would have worked better if it would have been, at least another ten hours longer. You hit what feels like a clear halfway mark, the story seems to be hitting its stride, and bam, it's over. As good as the ending is, it came so suddenly, that I was left horribly disappointed by it and shocked by the fact that it was over already. I haven't played through it since.
4. Neverwinter Nights -
This game is pretty much THE cult classic among PC RPG fans. It has an amazing story, a fantastic world, and a combat system that holds up better than even some of the best FPS's and spectacle fighters of its time. The character models are quite blockey, but the world itself is still beautiful and fascinating to explore. the customization is, once again, high in this game, as is typically BioWare's thing, especially in their earlier games. There's a massive plethora of items and equipment to find, skills to learn, and quests to complete to keep you busy and entertained for a practically indefinite amount of time. Though it's not a factor in my placement of this game, its modding community has to be mentioned. It's possibly the biggest reason that so many people stil play this game 13 years later. You can find AI enhancement mods, more customization options, custom created weapons, graphical enhancements and overhauls, brand new quests, restructured interfaces, and more. The game is astounding and massive on its own, but it's practically endless with mods.
3. Dragon Age: Origins -
I've been playing a lot of Dragon Age Inquisition, since getting it a couple months ago. I'm about 55 hours in and absolutely adore it. I mulled it over a bit in my head, but I still have more love for the original. There is a lot of nostalgia there, and the fact that it's the one of the two I've beaten, but I think that even without that, it's still an amazing game. It has easily one of BioWare's best stories, which is saying a great deal for it. It has a rather over-used old-timey dragons and dwarves setting, yet there's a lot that sets it apart. It has unique creatures, a massive and beyond fascinating amount of lore, and amazing characters and dialog choices, that in prime BioWare fashion, help to determine how things play out. The things they do take from common Tolkien-esque worlds like elves, dwarves, and dragons, still have their own uniqueness and lore that sets them apart from other iterations. The combat is tactical and fun, despite he issues some people had with it, and I think the game looks fine, though at the time, it was seen as less than stellar. It also has a great, orchestral soundtrack that incorporates a lot of Medieval instruments within the tracks to really immerse you in the world, just when you didn't think you could be more invested.
2. Mass Effect 2 -
Mass Effect is easily one of my favorite game series and I considered putting them all in this spot. Though really, I think the second is my clear favorite, though the other two are still amazing in their own right. Not to mention that, even though they're all part of a big story, some plot points aside, every game plays like its own self-contained story within the grander scheme of the series. While I believe the original game had a bit more intrigue in the main plot, its sequel blows it out of the water in every other aspect. The combat is significantly improved, going from clunky and slow to fast-paced tactical Gears of War-ey intense fights. The story takes more twists and turns than the original, and the side quests are fairly varied and interesting, they also very often give rewards and create some form of change within the game world upon completion. This game is also prime example of BioWare's excellent story telling and character writing. Everyone fits perfectly into the story, their loyalty missions usually tying in in some way and being great mini-stories on their own. Every character is also expertly crafted and it's impossible to not grow attached to each of them, especially with the amazing dialog and dialog choices. Of course, the series is known for its choice making system and the results of that are most prevalent in the middle chapter. Not to mention how the series created such a massive literal universe that feels totally fresh and infinitely interesting, with races and lore that are extremely creative and feel almost real. Overall, this is one of my favorite games ever in one of my favorite series ever, and it's not even my favorite BioWare game. That's how amazing this company is.
1. Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic -
This game goes far beyond being my favorite BioWare game, or my favorite Star Wars game. Knights of the Old Republic is quite possibly my favorite game ever, and I've played A LOT of games. As cool as the movies are, I was never a huge Star Wars fan until I played this game. It opened up the Expanded Universe for me, and showed that better stories could be told within the same universe. KOTOR tells an absolutely engaging story with tons of twists, including one of the biggest in gaming history that's still talked about over a decade later. The game still looks great today, especially the environments. Every character and every line of dialog is written superbly and the way you become engrossed in this universe and the people within it is absolutely sublime. Every planet is massive with its own amazing characters, quests, and side quests. The leveling system is great and provides massive arrays of replayability just from the different ways you can play. the typical BioWare choice and morality system came into its own in this game and is still among its best implementations. It plays out basically how Peter Molyneux's Fable sounded like it would. This is one of the greatest stories ever told in my opinion and the BioWare team, especially Drew Karpyshyn, blew up the dwindling Star Wars Expanded Universe into one of the richest and deepest sets of lore in the history of fiction. This game is what made me love Star Wars.
If you have yet to play a BioWare game, I'd highly suggest you do so, and I'd love to hear your favorite games. As I said, I lvoe jsut about every BioWare game I've played, I just may like some more than others and some less than others.
If you want to see me make bad jokes over video games, feel free to check out my youtube channel, SycoMantis91