Dragon Age II Review
- Posted March 21st, 2011 at 15:18 EDT by Adam Dolge
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Dragon Age II offers an action-oriented RPG adventure with enough refinements to improve upon the stellar Origins. However, the new streamlined combat, loot, and exploration system may turn off hardcore RPG followers.
- The fast-paced yet tactical combat system
- The terrific character development and dialogue system
- The gripping fantasy atmosphere
- The narrative comes up short in places
- The repetitive quests, battles, and environments
- The streamlined RPG elements
For anyone who claims to know anything about Dragon Age II, it should be abundantly clear that BioWare has tried very hard to appeal to a broader audience with its latest endeavour in the fantasy RPG series. The sequel doesn't carry the same RPG weight as 2009’s Dragon Age: Origins, but the revamped combat system shouldn’t leave out those looking for complete control of your party. Dragon Age II has enough depth to cook up a 45 hour campaign, but you can also take a more direct route through the plot in about 20 hours. This is a prime example of how BioWare has made a concerted effort to offer a little something for both hardcore RPG aficionados’ and more casual fans alike. Sadly all that accessibility has come at a price, namely in the form of a relatively dull and convoluted plot, repetitive missions, and anti-climactic ending.
The most immediate in-your-face change you’ll notice in Dragon Age II is the character creation system. No longer do you pick a race and proceed through that wonderful series of starter quests in Origins; rather, you have to play as a human, either male or female. You will also pick between a mage, warrior, or rogue. I picked a human warrior as I’m a front-of-the-lines kind of guy. There is some character customization, but regardless of how you look, you’re still Hawke from Ferelden with a loving family.
If you are familiar with Origins, then you should know all about the Blight. If you are new to the Dragon Age universe, all you need to know is that every hundred years or so, darkspawn (the game’s main demon-esque antagonists) come to the surface to wage war. The Grey Wardens are the protectors of the land, and they are responsible for dealing with the Blight. While this is the main plot of Origins and the expansion pack Awakening, Dragon Age II actually has little to do with the darkspawn.
Dragon Age II is a story within a story, but unlike the layers of dreams in Inception, this narrative element is pretty pointless. A clean-cut rogue Dwarf named Varric is questioned by seeker Cassandra, serving to fill in the gaps between the game’s three acts. Varric recounts the tales of our chiselled hero, and occasionally embellishes these stories to provide some comic relief in an otherwise dreary tale. As a more narrative-heavy offering than Origins, Dragon Age II focuses on Hawke, his journey to Kirkwall, and his rise to power as the Champion of Kirkwall.
BioWare created a story that is more about politics and the human struggle with power than the events from Origins—meaning it’s not exactly a sequel, it’s simply in the same world. I was surprised that once the game got cooking, there was little mention of the Blight or anything from the first game. There are hints here and there, as well as the reappearance of some familiar faces, but the link between the two games’ stories is almost exclusive to the setting. As someone who absolutely loved Origins and Awakening, I was a bit cautious at this new narrative. After beating the game, I’m not quite sure BioWare accomplished what it intended to do with the story, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
One of my favorite changes, or clean-up, is the improved dialogue. With a Mass Effect 2-style wheel, Hawke (who actually has a voice—a welcome addition over Origins' perpetually silent protagonist) can choose to be aggressive, funny, or generally positive. The wheel occasionally opens up to more investigative options and, depending on your relationship with characters, you can even flirt. That’s right, if you feel compelled to get passionate with one of your party members, or an NPC, all you have to do is butter them up. My Hawke snagged a lady, and he even got her to move in with him. Relationships are very important in Dragon Age II, outside of the bedroom that is, and open the door for additional quests or rewards. My only concern with the relationship system is that the story doesn’t always make sense based on your friendship (or lack of friendship) with the main characters. This is certainly not a huge fault, but some of your ... (continued on next page)
- 12:14pm EDT - March 21st, 2011
It has been so long sice I played an RPG. Is this a good game to get back into this type of game? Can you play this for 30 or 40 minutes at a time ans still make good progress? It is tough to get long play session with 3 kids.
Ghost-Rhayne | Ghost-Rhayne
- 12:37pm EDT - March 21st, 2011
@1 yeah there are heaps of side missions that you could chip away on easily. I think this isa game you can either go hardcoreon, or take your time on.
- 5:48am EDT - March 24th, 2011
Great Dragon Age 2 review!
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