Monday, August 15, 2011

Dragon Effect II

Game: Dragon Age II

System: PC, Xbox 360, PS3

Release: March 2011

Dragon Age Origins was a fantastic game that brought the classic fantasy setting to gamers everywhere. This was especially welcomed by console owners looking for something besides Elder Scrolls. DAO, however, was full of bugs and really seemed like a rough draft for something greater.

Enter Dragon Age II. Bioware tightened up the animations and combat, and added features seen in the studios other successful franchise Mass Effect. The end result was another epic RPG with plenty of combat. The lore of Dragon Age was also expanded upon, and sets up the franchise for another sequel.

Because the sequel was very similar to the original I am not going to waste too much time on the basics. The most notable change was made to combat. Despite the complaints of "dumbing down" the game I feel the changes were for the better. Enemies weren't as glitchy, there were more combat encounters, and the spell/talent trees have been simplified. The same classic strategy of healer, tank, DPS is still running strong, and this franchise is still the closest thing to World of Warcraft that isn't an MMO.

Art bugs and level of detail issues also saw a touch up from the original. Collars actually stayed on shirts, swords hit enemies, lips moved when people talk, mountains did not disappear, etc. Everything from character models to environments also saw a welcomed increase in detail. Only on a few occasions was the suspension of disbelief disrupted because of art issues. Overall the game ran, in combat and out, much smoother then the previous tittle.

The most jarring change to Dragon Age II came from the studios infusion of Mass Effect features. The main character can only be human, and the last name will always be Hawke. Gone are the multiple race background stories. This, however, allows the main playable character to have a speaking role which enhances the games story telling ability. The dialogue tree found in Mass Effect is also present.

Like Mass Effect 2, players can import their saved data from Dragon Age Origins. This will effect their experiences in Dragon Age II, and dictate certain events found throughout the game. A particularly awesome moment, for example, will occur if you sent Alistar into exile during the first game.

Finally, the events in Dragon Age II--like Mass Effect 2--leads to an inevitable sequel. This ploy really bugged me when Halo 2 came out, but by now I've come to expect such shenanigans from game developers. I am really interested to see how all the events in Dragon Age II play out, which is music to Bioware/EA's ears.

In the end Dragon Age II was another outstanding RPG from Bioware. The annoyances--repetitious level design and tons of load screens--were few, and did not hinder the overall experience. Cleaning up the art and combat was a huge plus, and the infusion of Mass Effect features was a smart move. I'm really looking forward to the next Dragon Age tittle, and the conclusion to this epic franchise. Snerts Snazzy Score is On Sale! for the average gamer, and Full Price! for fans of Bioware and/or classic fantasy RPGs.

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