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Dragon Age 2 review

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment

We don’t play through games as fast as we used to — the demands of work and family make it hard to devote a ton of time to the latest game. But last night, we finally made it through Dragon Age 2, using a warrior character and importing decisions made in one of Sam’s Dragon Age Origins playthroughs.

I should take a minute to explain: I’m saying “we” because with games that we both like, such as Dragon Age, Fable, Mass Effect, Oblivion, etc., Sam & I have our own tag-team method of getting through a playthrough. He does the majority of the fighting, while I do the majority of the conversations, treasure spotting, upgrading characters and comparing equipment, and running around to all the stores. Works for us.

Anyway, we made it to the end, and it feels oddly incomplete. There have been two previous Dragon Age games, Origins and Awakening. The first was pretty stand-alone, while the second was a continuation along the same timeline from the first, and could almost be considered an expansion. The decisions you made in Origins mattered in Awakening, and you could use the same character in both, if you didn’t die as part of the plot.

In this one, you have an entirely different character and setting, although you start out involved in the same events that shaped Origins. Instead of hanging around Ferelden, you cross the seas to the city of Kirkwall as a refugee, and climb your way up to the status of champion of the city. As the game goes on, years pass, and the events of Origins in Ferelden (if you played it and choose to include that information in the DA2 story) indirectly influence Kirkwall. Some of the characters from Origins and Awakening also can be found along the way.

The fighting seemed less challenging this time, although in some ways, more fun. The ability to use various items across classes was really helpful, as that was no fun in Origins. The facial and detail rendering on the characters also was vastly improved and quite realistic. I don’t think I saw a single graphics glitch, as opposed to Origins and Awakening, which sometimes had weapons sticking through hair strangely, or rough edges showing in cutscenes. On the other hand, they changed some faces of familiar characters so much they didn’t even look the same, like the mage Anders and the Qunari people.

Most of the world in DA2 was good, with interesting new settings and plenty of cultural depth to explore in the optional codex entries. The gameplay was really similar to the other two, so hardly bears mentioning. One change I wasn’t sure about, however, was armor for companions. The outfits they played in were unchangeable except for upgrades you can acquire that give specific abilities, like rune slots or defense bonuses. All the armor you find in the game is strictly for the main character, Hawke, so you end up not using most of it. But, for all I know, that was the key to the awesome graphics, since they didn’t have to be drawn out in a hundred different armor sets.

The strange thing about Dragon Age 2, when you’re done, is that it leaves the story ending so wide open. It feels a lot like the middle book in a trilogy; nothing major is resolved, and the future possibilities for the characters, even whole countries, are left with more questions than answers.

The champion of Kirkwall turns out to be a major instigator of social upheaval, at least with the decisions we made while playing, and maybe that’s why it feels so unfinished. We went from one chaotic setting to another. I guess there’s one thing for certain to be said: We’ll be looking forward to playing Dragon Age 3 when it arrives, and carries the story onward.

For now, I’m planning to replay DA2 with my favorite class, the rogue, and trying out a few different story decisions to see how the game changes.

Categories: Games Tags: , ,

Check out my Dragon Age Awakening review…

April 13, 2010 Leave a comment
Dragon Age: Origins
Image via Wikipedia

It’s over at Geek Girl on the Street, here. It’s my first post for them, and, I guess, my first paid blog post. Can’t complain about my job, hey? Anyway, reading this post reminds me I have more Dragon Age to play… I still want to find out the reaction from my Origins character, who is one of the Couslands, when she meets Nathaniel Howe in her dungeon. Should be good.

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