Read more after the break!
First there’s the story (or lack there of). You play Hawke (male or female) with class choices of warrior, rogue or mage. Hawke is trying to protect his/her family from the endless Darkspawn that have forced them out of their home in Ferelden. They decide to take refuge in Kirkwall where Hawke will have to spend a year in slavery to pay off his/her debts to one of two political groups that let you stay in the city. Once done paying the debts, Hawke starts the events that make him/her the Champion, most which involve political problems in Kirkwall and well known Dragon Age themes, meaning the interactions with Darkspawn, elves, mercenaries, and mages. Returning players will be pleased to know that they’ll see some familiar faces that made Origins extraordinary.
The game overall looks smoother than Dragon Age: Origins with quicker, more precise combat, but for players who are looking for strategy-heavy fighting, the quests can get a little monotonous. The amount of quests is overwhelming, which creates the issue of a weak main plotline. Players normally recognize the importance of side quests for the overall story but unfortunately will be plagued by the amount of quests presented to the player that don’t affect the main story line in a significant way (the decisions you make will matter, but only in more discrete ways). Besides the main plot quests, there are secondary, companion, premium content, and side quests; that’s too many types of quests. Playing through the quests is fun, but for the most part they’re only good for the XP. The amount of quests hurts the story line the most, however, because it lacks direction overall. At any given point a player may have ten main plot quests to choose from. The freedom of choosing these quests actually makes the story very weak because there’s no concrete series of events for the player to refer to. On top of that the game is linear with two basic landscapes: the town and the mountains. That’s it. If the repetition of those settings isn’t enough then go explore the dungeons because they’re all exactly the same. In short, it feels like BioWare broke a lot of promises to their craziest fans.
And now onto the positive stuff. BioWare needs recognition that their new system works well. It’s creates faster combat that’s much more fluid than in previous games. In other words I don’t fall asleep because my general attack only has one look. The combat may be button smashing at times, but at least it’s pretty to watch. The classes are more even this time around; each have their strengths and weaknesses, so there’s no need to freak out because the mages aren’t invincible. The combat has sped up to make fighting hoards of Hurlocks more exciting with a variety of attack moves and new talents your character can learn.
For the gamers who play RPGs for character development and interaction, Dragon Age II goes beyond any expectations. The in-game dialogue and the random companion-to-companion conversations are smart and hilarious. I would play through the game again to hear every line that the characters have. There is amazing depth to the characters involved in the story as well. You can learn years of experience from the companions in the game because BioWare really tried to add a history to the characters; it’s why Hawke has a family in the first place. Talking to the characters is more entertaining than the story itself because it creates a fantastic dynamic. But to be honest it’s disappointing that the depth of the characters can’t play a bigger part in the narrative as a whole.
Dragon Age II is super fun overall. It’s not narrative-deep like its predecessor, but RPG elements make you want to spend hours maxing out every talent branch your character has. Those who are disappointed with the lack of development, let’s give BioWare the benefit of the doubt and say that either they felt the pressure to get a second game out as quickly as possible or they’re trying out their new techniques to get feedback in order to perfect Mass Effect 3. Can we get over ourselves now and go slay some Darkspawn and dragons, please?