Dragon Age II is the sequel to Bioware’s Dragon Age: Origins and a very different game as a result. It’s still an RPG and all, but it’s not as well done as Origins and I nfact is played very, very safe. To safe even. To some this game screwed up an already dying franchise, to others it’s better then the original. Sadly the latter are a bunch of people who are still playing DAII for the 1st time and hope it’ll get better later on. It doesn’t.
Now to you lot I might come off a tad....strong towards this game, and your right I’m rather opinionated towards this game. Since i’m appointed to be a reviewer by the gods of the internet (aka doing this because I’m bored and I have a few people actually reading these) I’ll give my honest or at least try to be review as I can.
Just so I’m not one key note, I’ll start off with the good things about this game.
Combat: You remember in the previous parts how I was bitching about combat mode and how you were walking around like Donkey Kong? Well I’m very grateful to say this is no longer the case. You are actually going out there and kicking ass!
It takes the combat system of Origins and gives it a healthy injection of steroids. You are actually charging in, kicking ass and taking names. Fast paced action and deliciously gore fests galore. Rogues actually jump around like ninja’s, Warriors charge in against hundreds of bad guys and Mages actually slam their staff and bladed edge into their enemies in CQC.
On Console’s it’s a smash’em up fest while on Pc there is still strategy involved. You can try strategy on the Console version, but it’s a lot more limited. Also where in Origins you only had a limited amount of foes each time, you literally get thrown dozens at you. True it’s a tad unrealistic you alone can wade through hordes of darkspawn whilst the Warden had a though time fighting three or four at once. However it sort of makes sense because this is a framed narrative, our next good point.
Framed narrative: The story in this game is told 10 years after the ending of Origins (or 9 and ½ to the nitpicks who played Awakening). Cassandra, a Seeker of the Circle is interrogating Varric Tethras whom I can safely say is the best ally in any game EVER.
[img][/img][/url] You can be my wingman anytime, Mavarric.
This dude is the most loyal, witty and useful ally in this game. And because it’s him telling the story of the champion ( You) some facts are to be taken with a grain of salt. There are two instances where you find Varric is actually adding a few things to the story because...well why not? The cutscenes in between Acts are very nicely done and the way you play the game does change the dialogue he is speaking. It’s been done before in games and to be honest, it has been done well here. But like I said before, the narrative was played to safely. Other then those two times there is literally no more diversions in the story and there is no real sense you are in fact a character in a story.
There is no Varric voice over in the distance like he is the narrator or Cassandra asking questions while you play. Like I said in combat, whilst your fighting Cassandra could’ve questioned if what Varric saying is true if you really did fight all those bad guys with Varric replying he’s making it more spicey.
Dialogue: For those who played Mass Effect, you will cheer at a updated version of the dialogue wheel. DAII becomes a tad more like Mass Effect with the same menu and dialogue wheel like Mass Effect. For those who didn’t play Mass Effect....come here a second.
THAT is for not playing Mass Effect! It’s only 10 dollars now for Pc or Xbox, go get it now!
Anyway, the dialogue wheel is...well a wheel which allow you to pick what options you wan to take in a dialogue. What’s nice this way is you can explore your options better and the picture in the center of the wheel says what option your going for and in what way your character is growing. You can be a diplomatic good guy, a snarky bastard (like yours truly) or a dick( Like Khadafi).
Every time you pick the same option the voice and lines for your character changes with it, so your character sticks to the personality you picked for him/her. That’s right, your character can actually speak in this version.
Both the male and female voices are good enough voice actors and the quality actually improves later on in the game. Sort of like Commander Shephard in Mass effect. Again if you didn’t play it before, you best should. It’s a REALLY good game.
The chats you have with your party members and other characters are just as witty, if not wittier then in DA:O and as the game progresses, you do have the sense you have been together for a long time.
The problem however with that is....well it’s just like Awakening. You can only speak with your companions at set milestones in the game, which is like I said before a designer and voice acting thing.
It’s like Seth Green not appearing in Mass Effect II’s last DLC, he only had to say ONE line but they couldn’t get him? It’s ridiculous! ...at this point you realize I keep talking of Mass Effect, which is natural really since this game was trying so hard to be like Mass Effect.
The gameplay changes, the setting, dialogue wheel...the developers are trying to hard to make this franchise to be like Mass Effect, while it shouldn’t. It’s a separate franchise and it needs to be different. DA:O was supposed to be a successor to Baldur’s gate or Neverwinter Nights, not like Mass Effect in a fantasy setting.
And those were the only good things I had to say about this game. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good game still, but it shouldn’t have been connected to this Franchise. This game feels rushed, copied from another franchise and a cash cow. I’ll tell you why.
Story: Instead of being a Grey Warden, you are Hawke. A refugee from Ferelden who flees from the Fifth Blight to the Free Marches (the place from Dragon Age: Legends) and more precisely the city of Kirkwall. Varric is telling the tale as a framed narrative with Cassandra asking how your character became the Champion and how he/she managed to topple Thedas to ruin, for better or worse.
The transition from refugee to Champion is...not done very well. To be fair becoming a Champion isn’t done well in this game. You don’t defend Kirkwall against the hordes of Darkspawn, in fact they barely appear in this game. In fact there are only three Darkspawn models in this game, which is stupid. For the past games the franchise made the Darkspawn to be the great threat and the major bad guys, yet in this game they barely appear in it.
Fair enough, the writers are trying to tell another story here but still the darkspawn are a major threat to Thedas and not having them in this game is a huge loss since after Awakening it would have been interesting to know what exactly would happen to the Darkspawn and the Deep Roads.
The story is divided in Four acts.
The Prologue is about how your character escapes Lothering ( you don’t get to see Lothering except from afar mind) and ends up in Kirkwall.
In Act I you are gathering money (yes, grinding is a major story quest line now. It’s like your playing Fable fucking III again!) so you can go to a Deep Roads expedition to gather more money and reclaim your noble name and house.
In Act II it’s about the tension between the qunari ‘guests’ in Kirkwall and the tensions they have with the other residents and how it erupts into war. You don’t get to choose sides mind you, you don’t get that choice. In fact the scale of the Invasion is to small to be a huge threat. In the trailer you had the idea a large qunari army was going to invade Kirkwall and you and your allies had to team up to defend it against the massive armies.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gk99DUVXhKQ&feature=related IT’S ALL A LIE!
This game never hits the epic point it had with Dragon Age, not once! In fact in Act III it’s all about the Templars and the Mages. In fact the ENTIRE GAME is about it.
Look, I don’t mind that storyline but for the love of god this was false advertisement. Your not fighting off a major threat to your city and family, no you have to pick sides between the oppressed mages and the jerkish templars. And STILL they fuck that up!
If you never played DA:O you would never understand the plight of the Mages or the responsibilities of the Templars. In fact this game does a poor job trying to make you feel bad for the mages because they keep doing horrible things, like serial killing or summoning demons.
Overall this game takes place in just one city In a 7 year span, not 10 like they say in the trailer, but 7.
This is a life story in a way about your character, fair enough. But as a game I don’t think that’ll work. That’s like they’ll make a game out of Marley and me. In fact I’m very surprised they haven’t made one yet.
Sorry when I see a Christmas movie I keep thinking of this.
Companions: the big strength of Bioware are it’s companions. Like always I think they are some of the best one’s so far. Although I do miss a Qunari in my party.
First off we got Varric, who is like I said before the best ally in this game. He takes care of your other companions like buying off criminals to leave them be and use his connections in the underworld to do them favours. He is my favourite none-bearded dwarf in any franchise. He’s loyal, funny and has a awesome crossbow called Bianca.
You don’t want to mess with the Varric. He is your archer rogue in this game and defiantly worth taking with you in your party because he is a excellent liar and lockpicker. He is also the source of much discontent of female players for him not being a romance option.
Second we got the siblings Bethany and Carver. Bethany is a mage and Carver a two handed warrior. You have both in your party in the prologue, but eventually one of them dies depending on your class. Bethany is the shy sister character and is actually very sweet....and hot. If she wasn’t my character’s sister I would’ve romanced her right off the bat.
The other one is Carver who is by FAR the most annoying character in any game ever. He really reminded me of robin from Robin and Batman who’s sole occupation in that film was to bitch and moan about him being second and in Batman’s shadow. Yes this guy keeps bitching about being in your shadow and it’s so hard to change his relationship to you that in the end you don’t give a toss and be a jerk back to him.
I hate this guy SO much I sometimes led him die in one of the key points of the game because I can, my mother be damned!
Next up we have Aveline, a fellow survivor from Lothering who loses her husband during the escape. If you’re a mage or a rogue she is your main tank for the game. She joins the city guard as the game progresses and rises in rank. She’s a very reliable character and will always have your back, even if you do some criminal things.... You can even help her get a new husband just because she’s so kind to you. It’s always nice to know someone in higher places isn’t it?
Isabella....the hot pirate lady from Origins has returned here (and will even mention to Hawke if you shagged her or not then.) and she’s kicking ass as your CQC rogue. She’s a ninja extreme and a love interest. Like Morrigan when you begin a romance it’s just sex, but you can build a relationship with her and she falls in love with you. She’s very one note mind as she keeps making sexual innuendo’s but hey, look at her.
Pirate lady hotness FTW! Also she swings both ways romance wise so....yeh. Here’s a tissue for your nose bleeding.
Next up is Anders. Yes Anders the snarky mage has returned and he brought a friend. That’s right, Justice himself is sharing bodies with Anders....which sadly states Anders is no longer the fun loving escape artist as he was in Awakening. All he talks about now is the condition of mages and how they are oppressed. It’s so annoying after a while, but you cant help to keep in your party because you hope, you just hope for one moment he might crack a joke like he did in the good old days....doesn’t help he is the healer in your party and you need him really lest you want to die...a lot. He’s a love interest for both genders and actually flirts with your male character. He doesn’t take rejection well....just saying.
Another old friend is Merill from the Dalish elf Origin. She’s a good DPS person and like Bethany very shy and naïve because of her dalish origin. She’s a love interest, again for both genders, and I swear reminds me of Tali from Mass Effect. Seriously, have a look.
See the difference? Neither did I!
The other elf in your party is Fenris, whom I swear is from the wrong franchise. Long ridicilious sword, mysterious, lone wolf and anti-social with a forgotten past. I wonder whom I’m aiming at here....
That’s right, he’s Squall fucking Lionheart in my Dragon Age game. Thanks Bioware! Needless to say I hate this guy...i hate him with the passion of a thousand nerd powered suns. Apparently if you don’t romance Isabella or Fenris these two end up together....whoopie, I’m grateful she cant have any kids.....hate that guy.
You also have a Dog if you connect to Xbox Live if you bought this game as a first owned. He’s just like your dog from the previous game and just as adorable.
And that’s all of them except one more...Sebastian Vael aka the DLC prince. That’s right, if you want him in your party you have to pay extra. Unlike Shale he’s not like able and in fact a big waste of time and money. Like I said in my previous review, I don’t care if he is voiced by Paul Atreides he still sucks ass. The Spice must flow my ass! Also ladies, he is chaste so a romance with him ends up nowhere, so don’t bother! If you want a archer rogue, stick with Varric.
Speaking of gear, there is very little you can give to your companions. You can only give them weapons and apparel (like belts and rings) but you cant change their gear, only upgrade it. Which is lazy since they would have had to make it so that the models could support the gear you would give them. This game really likes to remind me I’m playing Fable III....
The characters are good enough, and their own relations with each other (like Fenris and Isabella) are a nice touch and it does give you the feeling they have known each other for a long time. However they are no Oghren or Zevran or Morrigan or Sten or Alistair....speaking of..
Cameos/Save file transfer: The characters from the previous games sometimes make a cameo in DAII and mention your warden....but not enough. DAII tries to be it’s own game, I can understand that but still.... I mean take a look at Zevran.
The hell happened to you man?! Where are your tattoos?! Did you run out of crayons?! Alistair makes a cameo either as a King, or a Warden or a drunk depending on what option you picked...and he looks like this.
Most of these cameos are pointless save for Zevran and Nathaniel from Awakening since they join you in the final battle. What is worse is that they keep teasing you about you Warden. You don’t get to see your Warden in this game, at all! Not an obscure character walking by wrapped in robes...NOTHING!
I can imagine my Warden Aeducan in the blooming rose with a human woman and a elf woman in each arm while the dwarf waitress receives a fine slap on her bum by him while she is serving drinks. But you don’t get anything of that. I think they should’ve maybe guessing of your race and gender made your Warden, Alistair and Morrigan walk by in Lothering while Hawke does his/her thing.
You spend the last 3 years making this character...and you cant see him/her anymore. It’s stupid...stupid and lame...I WANT MY WARDEN BACK!
...the only good thing about DA:O that arrives here are the optional quests you get from the choices you made there. For example if you were a bad ass like me you decided to have a werewolf army. In the Dalish camp you meet a woman who’s cousin is a werewolf who fought in the battle for Denerim. She’s asking help to find herbs to stop Werewolves from becoming more feral and you can help her. Or if you sided with Bhelen Aeducan you can meet one of Harrowmont’s son’s who’s running to Kal’Shirok and you can help him escape or kill him off.
However these quests are few and very far away from each other. It’s very sad but there ya go, life sucks.
Kirkwall and the other zones itself: I’m very disappointed with this place, I really am. This City is not Ank-Morpork or Gotham City. It doesn’t help the game keeps rehashing the same zones over and over and over again. In the 7 years your in that city, you keep going to the same warehouse, the same city levels, the same mountain and beach just outside of the city. In DA:O you at least had several zones and locations, in fact I’m pretty sure they were all unique! This shows EA has it’s hand very close around Bioware’s neck and literally choked and shook it like a abused housewife to pop out a game in a year’s time.
It all feels so rushed and to be fair, if they waited two more years...this would have been a good game on the same par as the first one. Not since the Highlander movies has a franchise been so manhandled it’s sad.
DLC: I already spoke of Sebastien, but like Origins had with Journeys, so did Legends have a connection to DAII. And even Dead Space II! If you bought DSII you could send Isaac’s armour over to DAII! Which is rather odd, since Ser Isaac’s armour was more aimed for a Rogue. Yeh this guy here is supposed to be like a ninja.
Don’t get me wrong, DAII is still a good game and the combat is amazing, as is the dialogue. However it lacks an build up and a proper climax, and the obvious sequel ending I so innerving and hateful it’s nearly game breaking. If you want to buy it, wait until it’ dropped in price.
I’ll catch you later with the final part with the books and comics.