Review: Dragon Age II

Jan 20, 2012

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Dragon Age II is an obvious sequel to Origins, the first in this series. I hadn’t played through much of the content from the first game, but surprisingly a few years later still remember some of the plot, characters, surrounding area and the game world reflected those things appropriately for me this time through.

I began as a female rogue, figuring I can have more access to the game by using my wiles, charm and rogue skills to disable men’s concerns as well as their wallets. I had fairly good success with both but much more in some ways and not as much in others. Let me explain what I mean first. When I think of a rogue, I think of a scoundrel, someone close to the earth with lofty ambitions, good or evil aside, that just wants their riteful lot in life and aren’t afraid to take a few things to get there. With that being said I wish there was a little more in the way of theft and thereby giving you a sense of risk versus reward as it pertains to your skill set in this case. Isn’t half the fun of using rogue tools, opening doors that were supposed to keep people out and finding the elusive chest with a guardsman’s family crest, his sword from the war and a satchel full of the families gold? I have always thought so, but alas I wasn’t given the opportunity. On the flip side, the traps in this game were obvious and a bit too easy to disarm as long as combat didn’t obscure your vision. They were also not believable in most cases, as spiders and other critters were the only things guarding these out of the way tunnels and to my surprise I found traps… that wrapped me in webs? What, how did that happen.. I haven’t ever known a spider to make a trap. I would have liked to see a little more creativity here as well as a higher, more appropriate consequence for triggering said trap.

Combat was fluid and good for an action RPG of this caliber. Quick mapped skills, macro’s and companion team work like using a tank, flanking an enemy or taking control of a mage to give health to an ally are just a few of the easy to use, but rewarding ways to turn the tide of fun, high impact combat in your favor. In the past, this is one aspect I pay alot of attention to and I was pleased in comparison and with the whole game in general and the combat to boot.

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The story was great. Several quests on different fronts give you a broad, narrow, in depth and personal experience to your life, your companions, Kirkwall (city it takes place in), the enemies and the plot and how everything is weaved together. Splitting this experience was a narrative cinematic, featuring a dwarven story-teller named Varric, speaking to an ill-looking women about what “really” happen during impactful moments of the game. I like the game design here, because Varric in game play is a natural story teller, a sort of Bard if you will and I felt this is be one of the more satisfying parts of the story as a whole as it filled in missing pieces, gave you foresight into what is to come but didn’t linger too long to make you lose interest. Props to the developers for putting this in!

The replay value for a game like this is moderately high, at least for about 3 play throughs. It’s a quick game depending on your play style and the difficulty and allows you to play a very different character and have an overall unique experience yet again. One though that may require another game to satiate other gaming needs though, as it still is roughly a 20-30 hours shindig through dialog and quests.

Just like in similar titles, you can begin a romance in this game. Dragon Age II is the first game I have really tried to have this play out, wanting to get a good look at how believable and connected these are as related to the game world, the story and the close-nit group known as your party. I wasn’t let down. I had and finished two romances, one party member of each gender. The way the two played out were completely different. As i flirted with Isabella, dialog went from “let’s date and be serious” to, how about another drink, let’s be playful and speak with innuendos. On the other side of the coin was Anders, a troubled, cursed mage with a malevolent spirit lingering within his body named Justice. Dialog required more work over a longer period, convincing he wasn’t too dangerous for me and a little guess work before he dropped his guard enough to let me in. I also had to go through two, soft rejections before he got the idea, I was in this for the long-haul. One thing in particular that surprised me and that was also really cool, was that Anders made a sly comment about me being with Isabella previously, during the steamy dialog in the bedroom. I though this was a great tie-in and brought the realism out. Great job developers!!

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Lastly I wanted to touch on the ending. Unlike most other games in this genre, the ending is rather open ended with varying rewards. In a realistic setting you would be given these set of circumstances and they may or may not come to be, but the nice thing is that it depends on your actions and dialog choices, not just completing the story which was wonderful. I’m sick of just getting through the game and getting the same rewards regardless of what it took to get to that point. I won’t speak too much more on that as it gives away some things, but all I can say is play what you want, how you want and go after what you think impossible if that’s what you truly desire and you may just be surprised with what you end up with!!

Value : Purchase @ $30

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