I picked up Dragon Age 2 shortly after it was released last year, but only got 6 hours in before I had to put my gaming on hold due to the birth of Baby C. After finishing Mass Effect 3, I remembered I had Dragon Age 2 and moved back to that. It was a little weird at first, because I could not remember anything that was going on in my game when I started it back up, and seriously considered starting over from scratch. I decided, however, that I didn’t want to waste the 6 hours I spent playing last year even though I couldn’t remember what I had done so far in the game.
The story for Dragon Age 2 actually starts at the same time as Dragon Age: Origins. Your character’s name is Hawke. Kind of like Shepard in Mass Effect, you can choose whatever first name you like, but Hawke is your last name and the name by which everyone addresses you.
You and your family live in Lothering, which is a city just north of Ostegar. Ostegar is where the Blight starts and as the story begins you (Hawke) and your family our fleeing the Blight. As you flee, you run into a soldier and a Templar, who team up with you to fight the darkspawn as you all endeavor to escape the coming Blight. Your mother declares that you should make for Gwaren, a coastal city, so that you can set sail for Kirkwall where you family has an estate.
You eventually make to Kirkwall and find that your family estate is no longer your family’s estate. You must perform odd jobs to pay your way into the city. Once you have completed that you must earn enough money to buy yourself into an expedition into the Deep Roads in search of treasure.
Once Deep Roads expedition is complete you have enough coin to buy your family estate back. Then you must find a way to get the Qunari out of Kirkwall because they’re missing shit up. You do that and become the Champion of Kirkwall.
Once you have done that, tensions between the Templars and Mages come to a boiling point. You must then pick a side to support and support that side in the coming war. Once the battle is over the game ends and the stage is set for Dragon Age 3, which I read was currently in development.
Overall, I like the story and enjoyed the decisions I was presented with. Each character in your group has an interesting set of side quests and unlike any other Bioware game that I can recall, every character in your group save one is an option to romance. No matter what gender you choose.
One of the things about the game which I found to be unappealing was the locations. Except for the beginning of the game (when you’re fleeing the Blight) and the expedition into the Deep Roads, the entire game is played in Kirkwall. I understand that as part of the story you live in Kirkwall and stay there, but seeing the same locations time after time (after time after time) got to feel a little redundant. Bioware tried to mix it up a little bit by having day and night locations in which different things are or aren’t available, but they’re still the same maps.
I also read reviews that accused this game of being short. I don’t know where those reviews got that idea unless the people that wrote them only completed the main tasks. I completed every quest I could find and it took me nearly 40 hours of game play to finish the game.
The graphics are pretty good in this game. There are no complaints here. I was actually impressed with the syncing of lips to words in the graphics in this game. Dragon Age 2 did the best job of this I have ever seen in a game.
The sound effects in this game were superb. From the chilling sounds of blade meeting blade to the roar of a fire-breathing dragon (yes, you fight a dragon in this game, too), it was all done supremely well.
I wish I could say the same about the voice-acting however. The voice acting was adequate, I guess, but could’ve (and should’ve) been much better. What’s worse is that there was no account taken for accents in this game. In the Dragon Age: Origins, all Orlesians had French accents. So Orlesians therefore have French accents. Great. The same is true in Dragon Age 2, however there were other accents mixed in amongst the races. For instance, the Elves all had normal accents in the first game. In Dragon Age 2 I ran into Elves with Scottish, French, English, and American accents. How can this be? How can only one elf out of an entire tribe of them have a Scottish accent? The same was true of Dwarfs, too. There were a couple of Dwarves who had Scottish accents. It’s just weird.
The gameplay is not too dissimilar from Dragon Age: Origins. Most of the talents are the same, as is the way you level your players up. The way you choose your talents is a bit different as the talents are separated into groups in tree form.
The combat system is slightly different, as well. Instead of a turn-based combat system in which your character automatically performs basic attacks against enemies unless you choose a talent, you only attack if you mash the attack button in this game. Whether are not your attack connects still depends on your attack modifier and your enemy’s defense, but the way you attack is different. It took me a while to get used to this set up.
Once I had gotten used to the gameplay, however, I was quite enjoyable.
The replay value is phenomenal as it is with every BioWare game. I have started a second play through, this time as the female character, and already I have one different companion. I played my first play through as a rogue and this time I’m going as a mage. As such, the people are treating my differently as mages are looked down upon in Kirkwall because the Templars are extremely overbearing there.
Overall, this is an excellent game. The pros far outweigh the cons in this game. The mediocre voice acting is easy enough to look past and the regurgitated maps at least don’t have things in the same spots when they’re reused. The story itself is epic. In the world of Thedas, not 10 years after the end of the 5th Blight, war looms worldwide because of the events of this story.