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3/15/2011

Dragon Age 2 Reviewed

 Dragon Age: Origins                 Dragon Age 2



A Quick Hooray For Origins!

It was one year ago. I remember inserting the disc and being immediately turned off by the annoying flickering graphic details on the PS3. This was the first yak I encountered with Dragon Age Origins, the RPG by developer Bioware, the guys everyone was talking about. The design choices were questionable, tacky at times. The menu navigation felt sluggish and the strange blend of tactical and real time combat was a mediocre effort. And don't even get me started on the horrible font. All in all I wasn't excited.

But as it turned out, I was quickly stand corrected.

I fell in love with Dragon Age Origins inspite of all its awkward retro design choices and graphic flaws, because the rest of this game was pure and simple amazement. The wonderful characters with their unique and interesting backstories, the impressive cast of voice acting talents, the excellent story and cleverly crafted dialogue, the musical score underlining the events, it all fit like a glove.
 
I was confident that Bioware would create a worthy successor, with them being able to deliver that kind of story as a prelude to the series. A little polishment of  the design and the menus, a more eye-friendly color palette and we would be having another first-class game on our hands. For sure.


And Yes, They Did It!

In Dragon Age 2, the design is very appealing. The menu looks great, the character customization is alright (a little dumbed down for my taste, but I can live with it) and the combat system is awesome. I chose to play a rogue and the knife-wielding and fast movements feel amazing and super effective against my opponents. It's like the house of flying daggers! The music is beautifully integrated into the world and skillfully attuned in combination with the sound effects. At times, it's even better than Origins. A definite improvement.


A Medieval Disaster

Speaking of improvements, there are some other changes in Dragon Age 2. And I am really heartbroken to tell you that unfortunately it is the story aspect of the game which changed for the worse. It is just not that memorable and clear what the hero's part is in this world. The missions feel like a half-baked reminiscence of the predecessor. The city by the name of Kirkwall is full of legends and tales about the former hero, the one who slew the arch demon. These were the times and unfortunately I'm not in them anymore.

In Dragon Age 2, I'm a hero, who is busy doing insignificant chores while preparing for an expedition, making some money, so me and my family can climb up the social ladder after being fugitives for a very long time. Finally move out of my uncle's house. That damn man gambled away our fortune! My sister is a mage, an apostate, to be accurate, and so was my father. He died somehow.

My companions are for one, a quick-witted dwarf, the tank of my party is a righteous member of the city guards who always wants to play by the rules, and the mage is a grey warden exile who has a soft spot for apostates. Other possible options are a frightened elven outcast, an ex-servant of some big mean guy, and a rogue pirate girl. I don't now much more about them and exactly that is the problem. Maybe they told me, but I don't remember. And I am not that demented yet!


The Antonym Of "Epic"

Seriously, Bioware?! Or is the publisher to blame? Now admittedly, I'm not finished with the game. There is still time for something exciting to happen but I fear it won't, or at least, nothing creative comes to mind to rectify the lack of drive throughout the game. It's mostly a problem of storytelling. I'm curious what they will come up with for the endboss, a big bad guy maybe, a common enemy, a reason to feel like all this leveling up will pay off and is not just a non-sensical time-killing endavour.

I know that Bioware only calculated 18 months to develop this game, and that is little time as it is, but it doesn't excuse the arrogant lack of effort. You thought you could pull it off. Well, you didn't. The story seems to be a carelessly put together and highly generic tale of nothingness. You, Bioware, of all people, renowned for your great stories! How could you let this happen?

Dragon Age Origins (PS3)
Dragon Age 2 (PS3)