I never played the original Dragon Age and I’m not really into fantasy role-playing games. The Mass Effect games get a massive thumbs-up from me because of the great characters and sci-fi setting so I wasn’t really that excited about fighting loads of mythical monsters with swords and magic. Luckily, the game’s actually very playable.
Told as a series of flashbacks, you play as a male or female character called Hawke as either a warrior, rogue or mage. You and your sibling begin the game fleeing the town of Lothering as you flee an army or Darkspawn Hurlocks. After learning about the fighting mechanic using a combination of swordplay and magic and switching characters using the bumpers, you soon get entry into the town of Kirkwall where the majority of action takes place. Once you begin to assemble your party you go on a variety of quests accessible via the game’s three maps. You can explore Kirkwall at day or night and the surrounding areas which offer a bit more variety. Unfortunately, unlike exploring space, you get the feeling you’re never really on an epic quest as locations and enemies are re-used frequently.
The main thing that keeps me playing games is wanting to know what happens to the characters. There are a mix you interact with including dwarves, elves, Templars, demons and even big spiders. You’ll also have to fight the occasional boss such as massive dragons which can prove difficult to kill until you change your tactics in the menu screens. Choosing tactics for AI and unlocking new abilities can look overwhelming at first but luckily you can auto-upgrade and simplify tactics if you’re more into exploring, fighting and following the story and less into micro-management. There are of course a variety of other items you can find or buy that can improve your attack, defence, armour and resistance against fire and magic.
Conversations flow better this time around thanks to Mass Effect’s radial system being used. You’ll also get icons by dialogue which will let you know if you’re about to be happy, angry, make a joke or even flirt with other characters in the game.
There’s something about Dragon Age 2 that makes me feel they’ve dumbed it down somewhat and gone for a more action-oriented RPG experience. After hearing about the events of the first game it just seems in comparison there’s not actually that much going on in this sequel. Still, for me it’s an enjoyable romp but what I’m really waiting for is BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 to really get my teeth stuck into. Dragon Age 2 gets 7 out of 10.
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