YAB Review: Dragon Age 2
- May 17th, 2011
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Today’s Ypulse Youth Advisory Board video game review comes from Julia Tanenbaum. Our resident YAB gamer steps up to give us her take on “Dragon Age 2,” the sequel to “Dragon Age Origins.” The sequel had a lot to live up to — “Dragon Age Origins” is one of her favorite games. In a nutshell, it improves upon the characters and graphics, but it’s somewhat lacking in scope and battle modes. Here’s what Julia has to say about it…
Remember, to contact members of the Youth Advisory Board, you can email them at youthadvisoryboard @ ypulse.com or simply leave a note in the comments below.
“Dragon Age Origins” is my favorite game of all time. I’ve spent well over 100 hours on it throughout multiple play-throughs. The great characters, story, and the way your decisions effect gameplay give it tons of replay value.
How’d you get the game?
I found it on eBay.
What’d you expect going in? How much did you know beforehand?
I had read a couple reviews before finally buying the game, so I knew that the battle system was different and the story was shorter, but I loved the original game so much that I’ll buy almost anything related to it.
Describe the set up:
“Dragon Age 2” focuses on the story of Hawke, whom the user can choose to play as a man or woman, who sets out on a journey to the city of Kirkwall when his family’s home is destroyed by monsters called Darkspawn. The story takes place over a decade, and follows Hawke as he gains power and influence, and eventually becomes “The Champion of Kirkwall.” Although the player is in control of Hawke’s actions, which affect the surroundings and the outcome of the story, it is told through the flashbacks of Varric, one of Hawke’s companions who’s being interrogated by the Chantry.
From the beginning of the adventure, you have control over Hawke’s dialogue, appearance, and personality. Unlike “Origins,” Hawke is fully voiced, and this really brings the character to life. The personality you choose for Hawke affects the dialogue and the responses of the characters around you. Options range from diplomatic to belligerent to sarcastic. You can become friends, rivals, or even enter romances with party members based on the choices you make.
Like the original, the game features a colorful cast of characters, including an apostate mage, a promiscuous pirate woman, and an innocent looking, adorable elf who really practices dark magic. All of these characters react to the player’s choices based on their unique background stories, and political opinions. Over the game, you’re forced to make tough decisions, like siding with dangerous apostates or oppressive templars. Your choices effect those who become your friends and rivals.
The story is fairly linear, but has plenty of side quests, and is altered by your choices, including the history you select. You can either select one of the pre-made histories, or import your play-through of “Dragon Age Origins.” This data affects the world and the quests available in “Dragon Age 2.” Many characters from “Origins” reappear as well.
While the game is impressive overall, the combat is somewhat disappointing. “Dragon Age 2” is much less difficult than “Origins,” and the combat system really only requires you to control one character and button mash. It can easily be played without pausing as a simple action RPG. On “nightmare” mode the system just adds more enemies, which makes the game impossible because you cannot equip heavy armor to your companions, and they get surrounded and die quickly. However, the fantastic branching skill trees do return from “Origins.” There’s so much variety that you can play as the same class twice and not use any of the same skills.
How’d it look? Any advertising?
The graphics are one of the best features of “Dragon Age 2.” Characters have a more cartoonish look, but it makes them look more distinct and interesting. Unlike in “Origins,” characters have unique body types, which is a huge improvement. Races now actually look distinct. Your character is very customizable, and there are even more options than in the original.
However, the greatest problem with “Dragon Age 2” is the lack of variety in environments. Since most of the game takes place in the city of Kirkwall, you will roam the same slums, caves, and markets over and over again. Everything is exquisitely detailed, but traveling through same cave gets old after the first few times. After 10 hours in the game, I’d pretty much seen the entire world. This is disappointing, particularly because “Dragon Age Origins” spanned an entire country, and had dozens of unique cities, forests, and dungeons. The sequel feels very rushed in comparison.
Bottom line, what’d you think?
Fun and multi-dimensional characters, a great story, and fantastic graphics make “Dragon Age 2” definitely worth playing for any RPG fan. However, because of the limited environments and tiring battle system, I don’t think I’ll be spending nearly as much time on it as I did with Origins. “Dragon Age 2” is one of the better RPGs of the year, but not the best due to these flaws.
Julia is a freshman in high school in Claremont California. A self proclaimed Otaku (anime obsessive person) she strives to complete her immersion into the world of Japanese pop culture. In between school and homework she watches the latest Japanese anime on the internet, reads manga, plays video games, and practices Japanese. Though she is not a fabulous writer by nature, Julia does enjoy writing fan fiction related to said interests and occasionally immersing herself in online role-play sessions. In addition, she loves mashing up anime and game clips into anime music videos which she posts on YouTube, participating in her school’s debate team in novice LD, and of course reading. Julia is incredibly excited to be on the Youth Advisory Board, and able to express her opinions, which she has plenty of.