Dragon Age 2 takes us back into the universe of Ferelden, where the Blight has reemerged from its depths to send thousands of Darkspawn back into the innocent fields of the world. This time, the scene is moved from the destruction of Ostagar and sets for the Free Marches up North. Here lays the port city of Kirkwall, which will be the center point for the campaign. However, this time the campaign will be fought in a much longer period of time as it promises to take a decade to unfold the rise to power.
As two men hurl a captured dwarf in a chair, a Seeker of the Chantry approaches, called Cassandra. She threatens the man to give her all the information he know about a missing person of critical importance to the world. By the little person’s words, the story will unfold and the game will begin. From the start, it is clear Ferelden is not yet in the clear and there are dark times ahead, as the Darkspawn rise up and burn the lands as they move forward. It is in this setting that our hero has to flee their village and try to make it towards Kirkwall with a family and also an accompanying party. On their way, they’ll meet an old acquaintance of the series, when Flemeth comes from the skies to seemingly save the day. But as always with the Witch Of The Wilds, not all is as it seems. Yet, Dragon Age 2 promises to bring back numerous characters from the first game, which is probably a plus for fans.
As far as gameplay and appearance goes, Dragon Age 2 is exactly what one can expect from it. It’s a bolder, better, enhanced and most of all grander experience than before. From the small scenes we can see already, terrains look larger and have been polished up with more dark tones to create a more believable blight. Furthermore, the city of Kirkwall offers a view of the grandeur aspect that will most certainly wow people with its magnitude and more detailed structures. Even loading screens and cutscenes now boast a fresh new look, with more artsy drawings and panels with simple motion effects for full effect.
A score of string arrangements, brass, echoing vocals and deep drum sounds will create a wonderful mood for each setting; be it war, adventure or despair. In fact, right from the start Dragon Age 2 will create a devastating scene to pluck the heart strings and create an instant bond with characters that were barely brought to life. It’s a most effective method to create an all-round sense of immersion.
Combat-wise, the game builds upon the successful real-time combat of before and mostly enhances it, with a new and more comprehensible interface throughout its entirety. The attribute screen has been spruced up to reveal more detail on the fly. Abilities are now structured in boards with connected nodes, indicating which powers are necessary to activate in order to get to the next skill. In addition, there are several upgrades available for acquired skills, making them more potent than before. And lastly, Tactics have several new options available, such as the ability to refer to other Tactics in certain situations. This and the well-rounded combat mechanism make Dragon Age 2 an even better oiled machine. Characters are easily transitioned by selecting them and issuing commands, which makes combat as effective as it could possibly be, with the added option of offering breathing room by pausing.
Furthermore, the conversation mechanism has now also been enhanced to offer a clear view of advancing responses or more inquiring methods. This allows for a more clear view of which answers will create what momentum in the game and sets this at the player’s discretion. The whole revolves around a circle which portrays what type of answer is given, with a clever illustration; such as a peace fern, a mocking mask or a judgmental gavel. And let us not forget the early sexual innuendo, with possible hot lesbian action from newcomer, pirate wench Isabela. That will surely be pleasuring to all the pubescent teens unrated to play this game. She and the smarmy dwarf Varric, through which the story unfurls, are only some of the new characters that will breathe new life into the veins of young and old alike, in another epic fantasy adventure.
From the looks of it, March 8th will see another successful release from RPG powerhouse BioWare. The embellished universe of Ferelden breathes throughout the totality of game aspects, which offers more and better features for any fan and gives newcomers a low entry point for the series. Apart from the PC version still suffering from several kinks such as unresponsive characters, it seems Dragon Age 2 is soaring towards another gargantuan success. The known winning formula of its developer’s stable will be out for PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PS3, with several pre-order bonuses for the interested parties. The two-hour-long, unsavable demo is now out for your enjoyment.