Dragon Age 2
Published on Sunday, 22 May 2011 20:00
Written by MuNkY
|Title||Dragon Age 2|
|Publisher||Electronic Arts (EA)|
|System Availibility||Xbox 360, PS3, and PC|
|Release Date||March 8, 2011|
|ESRB Content Rating||M (Mature)|
|By It Now On|
A Very Different RPG Experience
I want to start this review by making 1 thing very clear about Dragon Age 2
. This game is an amazing example of what an action based RPG should be. But it is VERY different from the first game in the series. Fans of the original will find that almost everything in the game has been changed. The combat system is different, the inventory management has changed, the conversation system is completely new, the skill trees are revamped and much more. But just because the game was completely overhauled does not mean the game is terrible. This time around it's still good, but for different reasons then the first.
In Dragon Age 2
you play as the Champion of Kirkwall. Your Champion can be male or female, and you can choose from Warrior, Rogue, or Mage for your class, just like in Dragon Age: Origins
. But you can't chose your race or origins story this time around. You're a human from country Ferelden and you are fleeing the town of Lothering just as the beginning of the darkspawn blight is taking place. If you played Dragon Age: Origins
these locations and events should be familiar to you. But after a brief tutorial level your setting shifts to the city of Kirkwall in the Free Marches, 1 year after the blight is stopped by your character in the first game.
The story is told through a flashback/re-telling of your adventures by a dwarf named Varric, who is one of your companions throughout Dragon Age 2
. You know right from the beginning that you will eventually become the Champion of Kirkwall, and you will rise to great power and influence in the city. But how you get there will be different depending on the choices you make throughout the game.
The overall story of Dragon Age 2
is also very unique. There is not "ultimate world ending evil" or "supreme bad guy" or "Earth shattering event" that happens and forces you to step up and be the hero to end all heroes. The game is told in 3 "chapters" of your life. Each one could be looked at as a stand alone adventure. This basically turns Dragon Age 2
into a series of side quests with no full story arc that bridges all 3 chapters. There are events that happen that carry over from one chapter to the next, but mostly the story is about your interactions with the people in Kirkwall, your family, and your companions in your adventures. I found this type of story very interesting, and very well done in Dragon Age 2
. To me it made the story seem more realistic and it made me care about my city and friends throughout the game. The interactions between your adventuring companions is especially detailed. The game makes you feel like these people are real people that you actually care about. This effect is enhanced by a completely overhauled conversation system. In the first game your character was the nameless/voiceless hero. When your character was in conversation he or she didn't actually speak. You chose a response from a list of options, and it was assumed that your character said it, and who ever you were talking to responded appropriately.
This time around that is not the case. You character, male or female, is fully voice acted. And the way conversation works is exactly like the conversation wheel from the Mass Effect
series (another Bioware game). You select the general quick response you want, then the game turns that into a longer conversation. This way you are not reading sentence after sentence to formulate responses. It makes the conversation flow a lot better and seem more real.
The other major change you will immediately notice when playing Dragon Age 2 is the combat system. For those of you who played the first game, but didn't know this, Dragon Age: Origins was originally created for the PC, but then effectively ported over to consoles for release. The game was designed with PC style controls in mind. The game still worked on consoles (I played the Xbox 360 version of both Origins and DA2), but the combat felt slow and some times boring. It was made with a mouse and keyboard in mind, not a controller. But Dragon Age 2 was planned the exact opposite. This time the combat is a button mashing extravaganza. Which is both a godsend and a curse. The faster you press the attack buttons your using, the faster you attack. You can intertwine special abilities with ease and you can flow from one enemy to the next without much thought. However, Bioware decided that this type of combat would still work well in a more strategy oriented type of combat much like Dragon Age: Origins, but it doesn't. It works well when you only have to contend with a horde of smaller generic enemies. You can sit there all day and mow down hundreds or even thousands of generic mercenaries. But the second a bigger threat shows up the difficulty skyrockets. The game wants you to employ specialized tactics to take down higher level enemies. But the combat is way too fast paced to stop what your doing, assess the battlefield, decide what enemies are the biggest problem, choose what tactics to use against said enemies, etc. "Button Mashing" style combat is supposed to be just that. You are supposed to repeatedly hit buttons, over and over and over with some sort of flourish of attacks as a result. This style of combat doesn't lend itself well to thinking.
Now the above things could be looked at as either good or bad depending on which side of the arguments you were on with the changes.
However, there are still some more changes that I think would be considered by anyone to be positive changes. First, the inventory system has been completely redone so that now you don't have to micromanage every single minute detail of your allies equipment. For your main character you still have full control over every piece of armor, accessory and weapon. But with your allies you only control weapons. Their armor gets better as the game progresses and you can buy and find armor upgrades for specific characters that automatically upgrade. No more spending hours in the menu's trying to decide what equipment to give what characters. Second, the skill trees are completely redone as well. This time each characters abilities and skills feels unique to them. Now you could have 3 warriors in the party, and one could be a standard sword and shield type tank. Another could be a 2 handed weapon fighter set to deal a lot of damage to a single target. And the 3rd could be a 2 handed weapon fighter set to distract a lot of enemies and deal damage to multiple targets. This new skill tree system makes if feel like all your characters have their own uses. Each one could be used differently in a specific situation. In Origins
I usually had a set party and left everyone else back at camp the whole game. In Dragon Age 2
, I had certain characters that I used more then others. But no one stayed at the camp the whole game. I used every character at least some of the time in all 3 playthroughs that I have played so far.
Overall my recommendation for Dragon Age 2 is about personal preference. I can't say that if you liked Origins, you will like Dragon Age 2, because the game is extremely different. I also can't say if you hated Origins to buy this game, because a lot of the base elements are still present, and these may have been what turned you off in the first place. My personal recommendation is that the game was great and I loved it, but for completely different reasons then Dragon Age: Origins. I say no matter how you feel about the things I've said about the game, you should at least give it a try. You might be surprised how much you like this game.