The development giant known for creating grand and structured adventures, Bioware, has released their sequel to one of the most impressive and well received RPG games ever, Dragon Age Origins. With Dragon Age 2, Bioware has chosen to step up their game by including a new polish to the same great system and flavor present in the original. This includes a revamped combat system for both the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. As opposed to the new quick style of combat in the consoles, the PC version gives players the same choice of combat styles (strategically or in real-time) but has made it so that combat feels and moves much faster. This, among many other improvements, makes Dragon Age 2 one of the best games of the year.
Any fan of Origins will feel right at home with Dragon Age 2 as the control scheme is identical and setup is just as you remembered it. Rather than venturing through this adventure as a Grey Warden, you control a refugee from the recently destroyed Lothering. The story progresses in a streamlined fashion making it so that the time spent extending the narrative and wreaking havoc on Darkspawn is extremely balanced. I found this alone to be one the most welcome changes to the game as many hours in Origins seemed to be wasted on information or plot that wasn't relevant. Bioware throws you right into the fray by starting the game as the telling of a story by a dwarven character who has some interesting interactions with you. You are initially thrown into combat with a number of abilities that shows how powerful you can become. Seeing the newly enhance fluidity of combat being presented right away is a nice way of showing the player what they can expect from advancing their character.
After slashing and gashing through a slew of Darkspawn, you're enhanced abilities are taken away and the real story begins. The first thing you'll notice is that animation during combat is very fluid and enjoyable to watch. My mage, for example, would shoot two bolts of fire out of her staff before slamming a third power shot forward with each movement and accompanied sound being superbly presented. These little touches really make the combat feel that much more intense. The graphical improvements don't stop at the action, the new getup of the Darkspawn is a nice change. Other than a few other slight touchups, though, the graphics themselves are not much changed from their predecessor. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as both games look fantastic.
Since this story progresses as a side-plot to Origins, players can expect to run into many familiar faces. Bioware has done a great job of not making this game only accessible to those who played Origins by crafting a story that could stand on its own. Being a previous fan of Dragon Age only increased my initial understanding of the world, and it made certain interactions more enjoyable as I recalled how I dealt with said characters in the previous game. The developers also kept the world and concepts of the story new by including locales that were not seen in the previous game.
Aside from the newly crafted story and polished pieces of the presentation, some may sleight Dragon Age 2 for not being that much of a leap towards newer grounds. The progression of your characters is very similar to Origins with your character leveling up and you being able to choose skills from a skill tree. Aside from a few new moves, players of Origins or many other RPGs will know this style of progression. The basic movement throughout the world, and throughout the world map, are pretty much just like Origins. Some new features like being able to visit places at night are welcome, and they transform once peaceful areas into enemy coves in need of extermination. Overall though, the most changes to be found in Dragon Age 2 are in the form of the new story and the positive tweaking of many of the features and elements present in the first game.
If you are a fan of any sort of RPG game than Dragon Age 2 is a game that you must play. In fact, if you haven't already played Dragon Age: Origins than I thoroughly encourage you to check that out as well. One can only assume that going into developing a game that follows one of the most successful games of its time is a very daunting task, and seeing the path that Bioware chose is not surprising in the least. By taking the core foundation of Origins and enhancing each aspect of the world, from interactions to the art, Dragon Age 2 takes the rolling ball that Dragon Age: Origins threw, straps a dragon to it, and watches it soar away with awesomeness.
[Dragon Age 2] – $49.99 (PC, PS3, XBOX 360)