29 March 2011

Dragon Age II

I'd heard quite a few 'meh' reviews about "Dragon Age II" before I had a chance to play.  Not that it was bad, just that it wasn't an exciting follow-up to the stand-out "Dragon Age: Origins"; that it did not equal, let alone surpass, its predecessor.

This is true only in some respects.

Character-wise, it was brilliant.  Varric is the absolute stand-out, the best company any warrior could have - as well as an excellent person to carry the tale into the future.  Aveline enjoyably upright in an occasionally teeth-grinding way.  Fenris, slightly psychotic, but tremendously honourable (and glowy!)  [Though with a disconcerting number of things in common with Faille from "Stained Glass Monsters".]  Anders, returning with a warped sense of Justice.  And Flemeth, rather marvellous this time round.

Environment-wise, fairly poor.  There's not much travel, and a big re-use of maps.  The combat didn't require a great deal of thinking (but sometimes I like it that way).

Plot-wise, this is an unheroic story with a time-skipping structure which gave an episodic and somewhat sour flavour to what is a historic chronicle of how politics and madness in one city led to the great mage-templar war.  When your character isn't straight-out hunting money for the sake of money, or losing important people with no chance of rescue, they're wobbling a tight-rope path toward an inevitable confrontation.  In the end I felt like I'd surely slaughtered everyone on BOTH sides, and that there could hardly be anyone left to argue any more.

I'm glad I played, and in some ways this surpassed "Origins" for me, but it's hard to feel uplifted.  So, recommended, but I hope that the next game in the series favours heroism over politics.

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