Sequels are such a mixed bag. So many great new IPs have died out thanks to poor sequels, but on the other hand a lot of forgettable games have gotten great sequels that made them recognized. You can’t forget the Activision model of business either – yearly sequels to run franchises into the ground. In the middle of all this were Canadian Developer Bioware, who brought two good new IPs to the table in the form of Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Yes, they were games built on sci-fi and fantasy staples respectively, but they were still entertaining and Dragon Age: Origins, in particular, gave me immense pleasure during my multiple playthroughs simply because of the fantastic writing, good characters and immense scope the game had.
Still as bloody as ever
Under no circumstances did I except Dragon Age 2 to turn out the same way, though. A classic fantasy world built up by an RPG that induced feelings of nostalgia – there was no way, even with a seemingly rushed sequel, any developer would touch that goldmine and change it around dramatically. But that is exactly what Bioware have done, and therein lies one of the biggest problems with Dragon Age 2.
Not the best looking game
That the game looks terribly outdated does nothing to make you feel better. In today’s day and age of incredibly realistic looking games, DA2 is a blip on the radar apart from the nice character models. Poor texture quality (even after installing the hi-res texture pack) and awful optimization are the worst culprits. I started playing the game on a GTX 580 and was shocked and horrified when the game had massive texture glitches like black patches along the ground and crawled along at 15fps. It seems to have been an issue on the driver end though, as an install of the latest beta drivers from NVIDIA did fix the problem, but it really should’ve been rectified before release.
Improved Skill trees
That reason is the narrative. The entire game is set in Kirkwall in The Free Marches, where the game’s protagonist Hawke and his family move to following the demise of Lothering. Yes, DA2 begins pretty much at the same point in the timeline as DAO did, but the story is told via a series of flashbacks narrated by the dwarf Varric to a Chantry Knight Commander. Through the flashbacks, you learn what Hawke, the fixed main character that replaced the character creator from DAO, did to have such a big bullseye on his back. That the story is told like this is in a way the saving grace of the game, because it gives you a reason to complete it to see just what Hawke did to piss so many people off.
Meet Hawke, the Champion
The game does get better later, though, as the story picks up pace and gets more focused. But by that point I was so apathetic to the whole thing because none of Bioware’s famed writing skills were on show here. The characters are extremely bland, a far cry from DAO’s motley crew, and their interactions with Hawke, or the banter between each other simply don’t bring out the same level of reactions as you’d expect from a Dragon Age game. However, the Mass Effect-style dialogue wheel worked out unexpectedly well and is a nice, if unneeded, change.
Bring back the epic
Updated 23 May, 2013, 9:28 am IST
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