Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dragon Age 2: My Review

Hello again everyone! Its been a little while since I posted something. The reason? I've been playing Dragon Age 2. So, its time to get down to it and give the game a review!

Lets get right into it. Dragon Age 2 is the sequel to Dragon Age Origins. In this game, you play as a member of the Hawke family. You, your siblings, and your mother are fleeing after the Battle of Ostagar which takes place as a main event in Dragon Age Origins. Your family is heading to Kirkwall, a city in the Free Marches where your mother's family has ties. Eventually, you come across one of your future companions, named Aveline, and her husband. Together, you flee until you can flee no more. As a battle to the death begins, your party is saved by Flemeth, who gives you an item and asks you to give it to a Dalish elf near Kirkwall. She helps you get to the coast to get into a ship. From there, the true story of your character's adventure beings.

Arriving at Kirkwall, the scene definitely is grim. Kirkwall is flooded with Ferelden refugees and they are not letting more into the city. You and your family try to find out how to get into the city, and your mother mentions that her brother is a noble in the city. Future events show that your uncle lost the family fortune and family home. He arranges for two options to get you into the city. You can work as a smuggler for a year, or a mercenary for a year. Either choice gets you into the city. Fast forward to a year later, and your character is trying to join up with a Dwarven merchant named Bertrand to go on a Deep Roads expedition to make money. Bertrand's brother, Varric, takes a liking to you and joins up with you, helping you become a partner with Bertrand. Thus begins the true main quest of the game.

The game has three acts. Act One is your character slowly rising up out of the muck of Kirkwall and making a name for himself. The point of this act is to meet and gather your main companions, gather up enough money to be a partner in the Deep Roads expedition, and then go on the expedition. While doing so, you learn a lot about the city of Kirkwall, its various districts, and the political climate in the city. Here, you learn that while the Templars and Mages in Ferelden may be very wary of each other, in Kirkwall, mages are basically slaves; kept in a building that used to be a slave pen, and always locked up. The leader of the Mages, and the leader of the Templars do not see eye to eye at all and are always bickering and at each others throats.

Act Two tells the story of your character after his/her trip into the Deep Roads. While you now have money and some prestige in the city with various groups, depending on what choices you made in the First Act, and also upon who else is in your party during the Deep Roads expedition, your only living sibling (one dies in the Prologue depending on what class you play as) is either dead, a Grey Warden, or now a Mage or Templar in the city and no longer a party member. (This truly sucked for my play through, as I had made my sibling character my primary healer up to that point) Things have also gotten worse in Kirkwall. Qunari refugees are now stranded in the city, and there is major tension between the city leaders and the Qunari. The rest of Act Two plays out as tensions rise and get worse and worse. Culminating in an all out war between the Qunari and the city. Your character fights to protect the city and its inhabitants. The last battle, depending on how you play through, can be a one on one fight, or a general group fight against the Qunari leader and his men. If you can choose the one on one fight, your character goes toe to toe with the leader, and no one else helps or interferes. After you win the battle, you become the "Champion of Kirkwall". Things are looking up!

Act Three opens up with the Templar leader, Meredith, and the First Mage of the Circle, Orsino, publicly fighting in the streets, The Qunari killed the Viscount of Kirkwall at the end of Act Two, and Meredith has been basically running the city ever since. Her tactics have gotten more and more heavy handed, as she begins to see Blood Mages under every rock in the city. Here, your character can try to negotiate, or pick a side. Either way, Act Three has your character now living in the rich part of the city, his ancestral family home restored to him, helping Meredith and Orsino out prior to a final battle between the two sides. Eventually, both sides can no longer get along at all, and one of  your party members, an apostate mage/ex Grey Warden named Anders, sets off a bomb inside the Chantry of Kirkwall, killing everyone inside, and presumably, others outside the Chantry as well. This causes Meredith to snap and order every mage in the city turned Tranquil, which basically lobotomizes them. Orsino refuses to let this happen when they were not the ones who bombed the Chantry. War breaks out, and you must choose a side. Both sides have done wrong in the game. Mages are basically slaves to the Templars here. There are plenty of Mages who willingly accept demons to gain more power. Whichever way you choose, you end up fighting and killing both leaders, as Orsino turns to blood magic at the end and turns into an abomination and Meredith snaps and sees everyone as enemies due to an ancient lyrium infused artifact she had turned into a weapon. Afterwards, you and your party members left (some may have left you depending on what side you chose and how close a friend/rival they are to you and fought against you) alive leave the city. All the events you went through were basically retold by Varric to a Chantry Seeker who is trying to figure out what happened in Kirkwall and where to find the Champion.

While I enjoyed the story of Dragon Age 2 a lot, it was vastly different than Dragon Age Origins. Origins had you traveling all over Ferelden. This game, for the most part, keeps you inside the city of Kirkwall. One thing I noticed immediately in this game is that the caves were all the same. The map was the same and the details the same. If the developers did not want you to go down a certain path, the clearly visible doorway was merely blocked off with smooth grey stone (that in some later caves was still a door). It looked as if no effort was made to have a variety of cave maps or such really. Even the sewer/underground levels were the same map over and over. It really did jar me out of the game a few time as it was easy to anticipate where traps and enemies were after a few times in the maps. Even the trip into the Fade in this game was merely the same area where Meredith and Orsino are in the main game slightly re-skinned with some mist.

I did like that, unlike Origins where once you made something using herbs/supplies/etc you found, in this game once you found a supply, it never went away. The only thing you lost making potions and such was money. Very big improvement there.

Combat with a fighting character such as a warrior or rogue often came down to click attack on an enemy and watch as your character did damage. You could use abilities, but you usually only needed them for bosses. Mage fights seemed to slow down alot as you usually had to either constantly use the LT wheel to select spells to use or just spam the same spell over and over with a assigned spell on one of your controller buttons. Also, near the end of the game, combat seemed to slow down/freeze when there were large groups of enemies to fight at once. I have not had that issue with other games, so it could either be the disk, or the game's code. I'll keep an eye out for other such issues in other games.

All in all, the game is a great story. It has some flaws that make it obvious this game had less development time than it needed, but the game is a solid one and worth playing.

My Score: 80/100.

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