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xx Dragon Age 2 Review for 360 & PS3 with spoilers
« Thread started on: Mar 15th, 2011, 3:28pm »

This review is going to be a little different because I got it on both the Xbox 360 and PS3, I will do an overall review of the game then have a pro/con section for each console. The final rating will be for the game as a whole.

Dragon Age II is the sequel to Dragon Age: Origins. The story is told in a flashback structure by Varric, a dwarven merchant who is one of your companions who has been captured by the Seekers of Truth a group of Templars who investigate the events surrounding the Champion of Kirkwall (and apparently the disappenence of Hero of Ferelden from DA:O as well). It seems that the whole world is on the brink of war and the Chantry is in pieces.

You play as Hawke a human escaping the destruction of Lothering by the Darkspawn, Hawke escapes with her/his mother, sister Bethany who is a mage and brother Carver who is a warrior. You can play Hawke as a warrior, rouge, and mage. If you play as Hawke a warrior and rouge Carver dies in the prologue and Bethany dies if you play as a mage. Along the way out Hawke's mother suggests that they go to Kirkwall a city-state in the Free Marches and then they meet Aveline a female warrior and Wesley her Templar husband who gets injured by the darkspawn (and he dies as well at end of the prologe) they agree to go with you. After an ogre kills Carver or Bethany, the group is surrounded by darkspawn and then a dragon appears and kills the darkspawn then transforms into Flemeth, the witch of the wilds from the first game sporting an all new look. Flemeth agrees to help the Hawkes and Aveline to get to Kirkwall in exchange they must drop an amulet to a clan of Dalish Elves near the city. Once you get to Kirkwall you find out that Hawke's uncle has squandered the family fortune and Hawke, Aveline, and the surviving sibling must work for either a mercancy or a smuggler for one year to get into the city.

The story then jumps one year later and Hawke is trying to get on a Deep Roads expedition and after you meet Varric who suggests that if Hawke gets 50 sovereigns (gold pieces) he can convince his older brother to let you be a partner in the venture. Of course getting that much money is easier said than done. Also you get quests that allow to recruit Merrill a Dalish Elf who is a blood mage, Fenris an elven warrior who is also an escaped slave and doesn't like mages to much, Isabella a raunchy pirate captain stuck in Kirkwall looking for a relic. Anders, the smart ass mage from (Dragon Age: Origins-Awakening expansion) who isn't much of a smart ass any more he's possessed by Justice another character from DA:O-A and there is also a DLC character Sebastian Veal who is prince from another city-state whose family has been murdered.

The mages are growing more and more sick of being mistreated by the Chantry and in particular the Templars and with the almost fanatical Knight-Commander who leads them in Kirkwall.
Also a group of Quanrai have also crashed in Kirkwall, whose ideas don't mesh well with the Chantry.

And Hawke is caught in the middle of all this.

The story's flashback nature doesn't give it much room for choices as the folks at Bioware thought. While it's a nice try it just doesn't work for this kind of story and the story's jumps in time from year 1 to year 4 to year 7 events that would've been better shown are written in the game's codex (like Aveline's wedding to a new man it would have been nice to see the wedding and not just read about it) or if you have a romance with Isabella who leaves after the events of year 4 again we get a codex entry about her leaving Hawke and Kirkwall and then a quest to meet her at the Hanged Man (a pub where Isabella and Varric hang out) to get to talk her and make up.

With four of the five romances (Isabella, Merrill, Anders, Fenris, and Sebastian)Isabella Merrill, Anders and Fenris are all bisexual. Sebastian is the only heterosexual romance in the game.

The art style has also been redesigned especially for the darkspawn, the Elves, the Qunari, and Flemeth. While the Hurlocks (darkspawn foot soldiers) look awful they did get new walk that makes them feel deformed.
The qunari look awesome as does Flemeth even if no reason in the game as too why they look different.

Combat is much better this time especially for the mages.

Like Mass Effect 2 you can import your DA:O save files and this will affect dialogue and some quests but it's not as great as the import feature for Mass Effect 2 was and you can't change your party's armor only Hawke's while the character do change cloths (except for Isabella and Varric) at various points in the story where the characters change directions. If you don't take Bethany/Carver on the Deep Roads venture Bethany gets captured by the Templars and is sent to Gallows (the name of building where Kirkwall's Circle of Magi is housed) and Carver joins the Templars to get out of older brother/sister's shadow. Merrill gets a suit of armor if she becomes Hawke's girlfriend. While upgrades are found throughout the game for all their various outfits the fact that you can't change them is very annoying to say the least.

The game's biggest fault is the constant reuse of same maps over and over. I knew this was very likely because of the game being set basically in the same city-state and a few outlining areas for 10 years but this game make the first Mass Effect look varried by contrast.

Also like Mass Effect games Dragon Age II uses the dialoge wheel and I think it works better here than in the Mass Effect games. Hawke's voice actors do an OK job but IMHO they sometimes lack the engery and passion of Jennifer Hale and Mark Meer (who are the voice actors for the female ad Male Shepard in the Mass Effect games). The rest of voice actors do an out standing job.

The characters are very well rounded and they are all easy to like for the most part and there are plenty of DA:O and DA:O-A cameos and call backs.

Xbox 360 pros: It saves and loads faster.

Xbox 360 cons: The widescreen format looks off and there are cutsecens of character popping and strecthing it's as if they don't want to be widescreen. The achivements for The Exiled Prince DLC don't unlock when they should and Bioware is looking to fix it. The text looks blurry and is hard to read on an SDTV. There have been reports of corrupted save files as well.
While this has been patched, it would have been nice had it been fixed before being released.

PS3 pros: The widescreen format looks correct, no strecthing and flashing and poping. The text is easier to read on an SDTV.

PS3 cons: Load times and save times are longer. This seems to be problem with Bioware's games on the PS3 and while it saves and loads faster than DA:O and ME2 it seems to take a longer time on the PS3. There are also the occasional freeze on the PS3.

Final thoughts: It's not a grand epic adventure like Dragon Age: Origins it more of a personal epic but it does set up a lot of very interesting and potentional directions for Dragon Age 3 but it feels like it was done on a smaller budget as well. The voice acting, combat, and the new art style are most part very enjoyable. The story's flashback struction and retcons will turn some people off but this is a game that feels rushed at times and it shows it flaws too much. Still if you're willing to give it a chance it's enjoyable it's own right and it shows that EA and Bioware are willing to experiment and take chances with their games and try new things. I give Dragon Age II a 3.5 out of 5.
« Last Edit: May 27th, 2011, 6:56pm by Cyberstrike » User IP Logged

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