I have been a fan of Bioware since I first played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Since then, Bioware has refined the formula that many of its games have followed, removing some of the more annoying bits that dragged titles down and improving its story telling and writing. Bioware, in my opinion, has become the leader in the story telling RPG genre, for people who grew up playing games like the Final Fantasy series for the characters and story, but are tired of the tired old JRPG method of sticking maladapted 14 year old eunuchs in quests to save the world from some ancient calamity.

This thread is not to discuss the failures of JRPGs to evolve or even to discuss in depth or contrast the differences in style and gameplay of Bioware’s latest titles. This thread is to ask a simple question: what the hell happened?

Mass Effect 2 builds on what Mass Effect introduced us to and removes much of what many of its players hated. Mass Effect 2 has met the threshold set by its predecessor and gone beyond it. Most surprisingly to me was how much better looking ME2 was compared to ME1, a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

This is what my question is about: how can a game like ME2 be as beautiful and complex and run so well on PCs and the Xbox and Dragon Age look and run like ass? My girlfriend can’t play DA:O on her laptop because it lags too much. She transfered her characters to my computer, duo core with 4 gigs of ram and a 256mb NVIDIA card, and it runs perfectly on medium, except during the more action heavy parts towards the end, where we have to put everything on low to prevent lag. This isn’t a PC/Mac isolated problem, as the PS3 and Xbox versions are known to have their problems too.

I’m surprised that journalists haven’t emphasized this as much: how is it that a game can look so dated and run so badly on relatively modern machines that can make games like ME2 and Uncharted 2 run perfectly?