Dragon Age: Origins was a phenomenal game. Â Open-ended, non-linear (minus the main story) role-playing in true Bioware fashion. Â It was great to customize your party, slay Darkspawn and become the Hero Of Ferelden. Â Killing demons, dragons and also helping the Kingdom along the way. Â It was immersive, it pulled you in with its claws and didn’t let go.
The lore and mythology of Dragon Age has both width and depth. Â The Grey Wardens, the King, the Chantry and the Templars, the Circle of Magi; all had their own agendas and you had to choose your path and navigate the politics as well as the many dungeons inside Dragon Age. Â It was massive. Â On my first play through as a Human Noble Origin it took me (and I’m a little slow but no turtle) about 50 hours to beat with having only explore 42% of the World (that includes that there are other Origins that are about 10% of the content each.
Dragon Age 2 is much smaller. Â There are still hordes of bad guys to kill, of all shapes and sizes. Â The main factions are still there, the Grey Wardens aren’t much of it as you play a new hero “Hawke” in a framed narrative. Â Your story being told over the course of a decade by one of your compatriots. Â You are a refugee from the Blight (Dragon Age: Origins) and have fled the Blight to the city of Kirkwall, a rather unsavory city that doesn’t like refugees.
The story skips forward over the course of the year as you accomplish the main plot missions. Â It’s done well, the framed narrative works in this regard. Â I was concerned I wasn’t going to feel I was part of the story, but I didn’t feel that way at all.
Your companions are varied, and fit all of the roles you’d need. Â Mage, rogue, warrior, etc. Â Those are the main archtypes but you are able to customize their skills to fit your need. Â Their motivations are particularly clear and choosing the “wrong” answers in conversations or in quests you choose can cause you to gain “Rivalry” with them. Â Conversely, appease their moral sense and you will gain “Friendship.” Â This is similar to the Paragon and Renegade mechanic from Mass Effect but unlike you having to manage yourself, you’ve got your companions to worry about, individually. Â You’ll soon find your favorite set of companions for your adventures, but for their “companion missions” you’ll need to take the applicable companion along for the ride, so to speak.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics are wonderful in the game. Â DirectX 11 support really brings a lot to the table in this game. Â Reflective surfaces shine, magic effects pop and the game looks crisp and smooth. Â The character animations are top-notch and the models are superb. Â If you’re not playing in DirectX 11 the game still looks good, but much of the minute detail is gone.
As you’d expect from a Bioware game, the soundtrack is perfect. Â It’s very melodious and flowing and easily changes into the drums and chants during combat. Â It really is a perfect score for this game. Â Inon Zur has outdone himself, the main composer for both Dragon Age games.
Combat is different than in the original game. Â You can still pause the action whenever you’d like and order your companions around (or take control of them if you choose.) Â Combat is much faster paced and I, for one, did not like that I could not easily hit the Tab key to cycle targets. Â Right-clicking on an enemy will target him just as right-clicking on the ground will move you. Â With combat being so fast, I had a tendency to click the ground by accident, run past the enemy and get slashed across my spine for my clumsiness.
Attacks are vicious and instantaneous. Â Your skills have a cool down (which can be decreased as you level up). Â You can also use “cross-class combos” to coordinate deadly attacks against your opponents.
I only have a few complaints about the game. Â I know it didn’t review well at “Formal” review sites like Gamespot and IGN but I’m a bit more forgiving than they are.
- Repetitive Areas – If you don’t know your way around Kirkwall at the start, you soon will. Â There are several main areas of the city and you will visit them. Â A lot. Â All of the time. Â Constantly. Â Seriously, you will be the Google Street Car for Kirkwall. Â You’ll visit the areas over and over again completing quests. Â Deal with it. Â A bit annoying but not a deal breaker.
- Bland Area Textures – There’s not a lot of variety once you’re in an area. Â Darktown is dark and dusty. Â Lowtown is dusty. Â Hightown has lots of stone. Â It’s not ugly but there’s not a huge amount of variety.
- Combat – I like that my skills have possibly devastating effects, but I like the combat in DA: Origins much better. Â Origins combat was much more tactical. Â In Dragon Age 2 I feel like I’m just waiting for a cooldown to expire, like I’m playing an MMO like Rift.
- Romantic Entanglements – They are done well. Â They fit all types of lifestyles, straight, gay, bi-sexual, lesbian, you name it. Â Downside, I didn’t like that Anders or Fennric hit on my male player instantly. Â It felt a little “too much too soon.” Â Being a straight gamer, I’m satisfied with the two choices that you’re provided as the romance options. Â Again, my only gripe was the two guy companions hit on me instantly when they were part of my group, the two straight options did not.
I’d give Dragon Age 2 a 4 out of 5. Â It’s not as good as the original but it’s pretty damn close. Â My only real gripe that bothers me is the scope of the game. Â In Dragon Age: Origins you’re saving a country and possibly the world. Â In Dragon Age 2 you’re much more focused to one city.