March 18, 2011

Beat Dragon Age 2!

Hey readers!  You missed me didn't you?  Yeah, well once again I was sucked into another Bioware game,  and on top of all the other things happening in my life, it soaked up a big chunk of my time. Literally, this game soaked up 47 compelling hours of my life.  And of course, I'm going to review it.  You ready to listen?

Well Varric is going to tell you anyway.

Story: Oh many the story.  I have to say, this is the first time in a video game where there was a scene that made me cry.  Like really cry.  From the get go, you play Hawke, male of female, who is trying to survive and avoid the blight in Ferelden.  You try to find safety in Kirkwall, and over time you do gain more notoriety, but not without huge sacrifices.  Death is a constant fact of life.  Conflict is inevitable.  And the choices you make are gut-wrentching.  There were definitely points when I had to fight people, and I felt horrible having to do it.   
The game's story is a tale of freedoms over safety, and it's amazing how strong that theme is and how is enhances the game because of it.  And your characters all have their own story that has it's own built in conflict within the game.  Are you going to help with a project that may bring back a demon?  Are you going to save someone's life if the entire city's well being on the line?  If you're like me, and you love video games because it's an interactive story device (with fictional violence for fun!), you won't be disappointed.  Bioware does deliver.
Only complaint?  Like much of Bioware's stuff, it's very binary.  No middle ground.  Someday there will be a video game that allows that option.

Gameplay: Similar to the previous game, where pause and play rules the day, you command your Hawke and three other companions in battle.  Strategy is a must, especially if you're playing at the harder difficulties.  Be ready to be selective about who comes with you, balancing everyone's strengths.  
Selecting Attributes and Abilities is less guesswork now.  Attributes, in the style of DnD's abilities, clearly show what about gameplay will change if you raise them.  Abilities can not only be added but modified, allowing you to be a master a a couple of specialities rather than a jack of all trades that you stumbled into the first game.
The part that I personally hate?  WAVES of enemies.  You finish one set of baddies and suddenly out appear from nowhere another set, and then another set!  Especially in the beginning of the game, it totally cramped my style because it affected the way that I would plan my battles.  You get used to it, but it's just a little frustrating sometimes when it's not even a boss battle and you've killed the baddies and then six more of them show up.  Dude!  Party's over, the chips are gone and the hosts are going to bed!  In a boss battle I fully expect it and prepare for it, but it got repetitive when I'm just walking down the street.

Design:  First of all, we must admit that it's not going to take a lot to look better than the last game.  But it does look good!  Especially if you don't mind looking at the same cave in a different part of the map over and over and over again.  Everything looks good possibly because they scaled it back and focused.  I'm for that to an extent, but I don't like every warehouse or cave looking exactly the same for all of the side missions.  But they do look good, and would be believable if you didn't see everything all the time.  The details do make everything awesome, including making your family look more like your Hawke when you change your preset base face.  
However, you can tell that the game was rushed.  It glitches more than it should.  I just upgraded my motherboard and it definitely is not the issue.  Cut scenes were cut off and there was a whole side mission that I could not complete and cannot be completed across all platforms.  What the hell Bioware? A lot of people are complaining that they rushed production, and I'm sure EA put pressure on the team.  This makes me sad, because it shows.  If this is the reason, Dragon Age 2 is a great example how taking the time to polish makes a big difference.

OVERALL: 8.25/10

Play it!  It's a good story and a good game.  Is it perfect?  No.  But it's better than the majority of what's out there on the market.  It's a high quality game that has a great story and great characters.  Enjoy it!

What kind of Champion will you become?

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