Dragon Age 2

Introduction

Bioware’s Dragon Age: Origins was released in 09 and was said to be the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate.  Origins gained the respect of many RPG fans due to it’s dark sided and mature nature. Dragon Age 2 has finally arrived with many new tricks up it’s sleeve. Does it hold up to the hype? Or is it a letdown? Read on!

You are Hawke, a Fereldan who is fleeing with his Family from a Dark Spawn invasion during the events of the first game.  The story is told through a Dwarf named Varric who is being questioned by an unknown party. Spanning over the course of  decade, Hawke’s rise to the Champion of Kirkwall is brutal, surprising and harsh.

The Gameplay

Dragon Age 2’s gameplay has been retooled somewhat. You now have the ability to manually attack enemies, and I don’t mean by using talents, you can now actually be the one who swings your weapon. This gives you the feeling of having more control, it doesn’t feel tacked on and is implemented nicely into the game’s combat. Don’t worry the game is nowhere near being a hack n slash.  For some SUPER strategic players this could be distracting, but most should find it fair.

You may be one of three classes. The Warrior may use two handed weapons or a sword and shield to tank through enemies. A Mage can attack from a distance using their staff and wide array of magic. Or finally the Rogue, who can quickly attack using daggers or fight at a distance using a bow and arrow.  The ability to choose other races is gone, as this game’s story is more focused on the actual tale of a hero. The work you put into Dragon Age: Origins hasn’t gone to waste though, your choices in the first game may be imported to the second and may change the lore of the world.

Now to get into the meat of the game. Dragon Age 2 takes you to the city of Kirkwall where you’ll find all sorts of shady characters. Throughout the game you’ll find party members, they actually have depth and staying friendly with some can be hard if you’re a real moralist. Quests can be found all over in Kirkwall or from members in your group. The game keeps you engaged, there’s usually always a place to go, a person to talk to, a group of baddies to fight, and a new threat on the rise.

Most of the game’s quests and main story do indeed take place in the city, there are plenty of moments however when you most go out of Kirkwall to surrounding areas in order to deal with certain issues. The game’s enemies are varied. In the first game the Darkspawn were the main foe, they’re still hanging around in this one but hardly. Now you’ll fight thugs, demons, even bigger demons, mages, corrupt templars, things from all over the spectrum which helps keep the surprise element there and makes you think of new strategies to fight these new baddies. The game has also gotten a bit more “violent”, allowing you to slice through a group of enemies turning them into puddles of gore.

Talking with and getting to know your companions more is important. The dialogue is interesting and gives the characters background, becoming friends or rivals with party members grants them bonus passive abilities. It may also effect the story in unforeseen ways. Leveling up the characters is strategic within itself, knowing what they’re best in and what attributes to boost up are key to winning tough battles. You may switch the weapons and items that your allies carry, but you cannot change their armor like in the first. Instead you will find items throughout the game that will automatically upgrade your party member’s armor. You can even craft certain items if you have the materials, which may be used to enchant your weapons giving them upgrades like fire or ice damage.

The game has certainly become more cinematic as well. Dragon Age 2 can get a fair amount of AI on-screen fighting while keeping a stable framerate, helping those epic moments feel epic. Key events that happen in the game can be approached differently and have alternate outcomes. Some can only be reached if you’re good enough, really. When you feel like you’re going to encounter a boss fight be prepared the battles can be long, endurance is what can pull you through and when you achieve victory you feel rewarded.

The Atmosphere

Dragon Age 2’s scenery, art style, characters and story truly shine in this game. The scenery and art style are fresh, giving the game a unique look. The characters are some of the most well thought out I’ve seen in a while, each have their own personality, history, and have something to contribute to the overall scheme of things. The Story is……. AWESOME. The choices made and people you associate with all matter, the game will throw curve balls at you and how you adapt to the situations will effect the outcome. You feel like Hawke really does rise up in the world.

The Verdict

Dragon Age 2 is, to me of course, an almost perfect role playing adventure. When you triumph over baddies you feel like a badass, especially when you’ve used one of my favorite strategies “hit and run.”  Really though even if you’re not into more story driven RPGs like this, give this one a chance. It took me 31 hours to complete this game, and I didn’t do everything that I could. The people saying it’s too short should stop skipping dialogue or just stop tanking through the main quests. There’s been complaints about the graphics but I’ll tell you they’re fine, I think it’s more of the new art style that people aren’t liking.

CHECK IT OUT! The game is addicting, I beat it and wanted more. The story is compelling and the combat is fun. I really could not recommend this game to you anymore.

[starreview tpl=46 size=’30’]

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