Friday, October 23, 2015

"It's a Video Game!" - Dragon Age II

So, Dragon Age 2… what to say, what to say. Well, I guess I can start out with the basics. Dragon Age 2 was released in early 2011 by Bioware. Electronic Arts (EA) was surprised by the success of the first game, so they got Bioware to churn one out. I heard a lot about this game years ago and it wasn’t exactly good praise. After I finished off DAO, I looked for DA2. I have to admit that I was a little timid with how this game would be. Were most people right about how lackluster the game was? I’ll let you know below.

DA2 takes place over the span of a decade. You play as Hawke (in my case, Leonardo Hawke), a human who flees with his family to Kirkwall during the Blight in DAO.  In Kirkwall, Hawke makes friends and enemies while trying to make it in the big city. When Hawke makes it big, he’s labelled as the Champion of Kirkwall. He/She also has to deal with the growing tensions between the Mages and Templars as well as other tensions between other races.

We’re getting there. The hair choices could be better varied out though. Still, I approve!

So, even with its noticeable flaws and issues, I actually liked this game. Even though it’s not DAO, it didn’t necessarily have to be its predecessor. DAO is kind of hard to beat in terms of goodness already. It just needed to be good and it was that even with the flaws. First, I do like that it is smaller in scale. Instead of spanning all of Ferelden, you’ll spend the majority of your time in Kirkwall. While that sounds boring, just know that the city is big and you do get to leave every once in a while. You also get to import your DAO data into this new game so you can still have your world that was made.

Since you spend your time in Kirkwall, you get embroiled in a lot of the messed up stuff that happens there. There are major tensions between the Mages and Templars. By the way, magic-users are treated mostly like crap in the DA universe. You either have to join the Circle and be watched over by the Templars or you get labelled as an Apostate and hunted down. It’s complicated and you’ll mostly be involved that situation. You also get involved with situations with the Qunari and the Tentiver Emperium.
Come on, guys! Stay still for this Polaroid!

Instead of having free reign with your character like the previous game, you’re stuck playing Hawke, a human. You do get to choose your style (mage, warrior, rogue), look, and armor, but that’s about it. I can see why some would be peeved that they about this, but this doesn’t bother me. The creators were trying to tell a simpler story involving one character this time around. Your decisions still do have consequences on your relationships and the city as a whole. He/she can also be a virtuous man, a sarcastic nutball, or one cold-blooded person.
Just call us the D-Team! Don't send us after any dragons though.

Your companions are also pretty well defined this time around. They have different personalities as before. They too are also affected by the decisions you’ll make in the game. You may even find yourself arguing or even fighting some of them for some reason or another. My favorites were Varric, Aveline, Isabella, and Merrill (she is a bit dumb though). You also had some interesting non-playable characters here as well like the Qunari leader, Commander Meredith, Cullen, and a couple of others. You even get to see some characters from the previous game floating around.

The visuals do look a bit better this time around as well. The combat is good though it does have its issues at times. While I could only use my staff, I did have the ability to do melee attacks which was nice. The music is still good but I will say it’s not a memorable as it was in the previous game. The voice acting was good as well but I didn’t recognize that many well-known voice actors.
The Hanged Man: a place where you'll find scum, villainy, and some hot pirate named Isabella.

While I do like the game, it does have some noticeable flaws. First off, you can’t customize your companions’ armor and look. You can change a couple of things like weapons but that’s it. There are also a lot of reused locations in the game. A lot of the same layouts for dungeons and caves get used a lot in the game. It’s kind of funny really. You’ll be saying “have I been here before?” a lot. While I do like most aspects of the combat, it does feel a bit repetitive at points. Even small fights between thugs tend to last a bit too long at points and enemies spawn out of nowhere.
I don't know who to dislike more.

There were some companions that I wasn’t so keen on. While Anders is not too far from dislike side (spoilers: he starts the war between the Mages and Templars), Fenris gets my vote for least likable companion in the series. Seriously, I think my characters tend to not get along with male elves for some reason since Zervan met a similar fate. I don’t know what it is. Also, while a decade passes throughout the game, little change does occur with the city and people looks-wise. I wish there was more thought put into that aspect.

Another thing that irked me on a replay was the fact that some of the text was hard to read. It wasn’t as bad here as it will be in the next game I’ll talk about.  Lastly, there was also little resolution with the ending. Even though it directly ties into the next game, Inquisition, I did wish we got some resolutions on the characters. I heard that there was a cancelled DLC that was supposed to resolve Hawke’s story and it sucks that it got cancelled.

Overall, DA2 is a good game even if it has its flaws. As I said before, it didn’t need to be the next DAO. It just needed to be good and it succeeded in that with a nice story, nice characters, nice visuals, and decent combat. If you were disappointed in it before or haven’t played it, check it out. Well, I have one more game to do and it’s not going to be a short post either. Next time, I’ll look at Dragon Age: Inquisition. Peace and God Bless.

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