Posts Tagged ‘Dragon Age 2’

Dragon Age 2: Legacy Review

dragon age 2 legacyDragon Age 2 was a fine game that we at Polish the Console really enjoyed. While it wasn’t the marvel that Dragon Age: Origins was we can’t help but feel that perhaps we may have let our expectations from BioWare get the best of us. All in all Dragon Age 2 was a good romp through the Free Marches.

Many reviewers touted the lack of diversity in the landscape as a flaw of the game (and it was) and almost irrelevance of Hawke to the story as another drawback, BioWare looked to correct some of this in Legacy. Correct it they did. What we have is an adventure through an old Grey Warden prison buried underground that holds an ancient Darkspawn. While it’s not going to be enough to elevate Dragon Age 2 to the epic heights of Dragon Age: Origins it does serve to help lend more weight to the game by further fleshing out the tale of Hawke

Since this is just an expansion we still see the same graphics, gameplay, and control. BioWare didn’t revamp the entire system. It’s just an add on and as such we will forgo droning on about them with the same cliched analogies that you’ve heard before. What will ultimately make you want to play Legacy is the question “Is the story in Legacy worth spending $10.00 on?”

Dragon Age 2: Legacy Story

In a word, yes. I believe the word I actually used to describe it to Kat was “ballstastic”. To me this was a very worthwhile purchase. Dragon Age 2: Legacy playthrough lasted me around 2.5 – 3 hours which is fairly respectable for any expansion pack. Now this was padded intermittent pausing to take my two dogs out, so for you I would imagine that it would be less. Unless you really like to stop and enjoy the scenery.

dragon age 2 legacy gameplay

These shields are a nuisance on more than one occasion

It was interesting to me to watch the tale unfold of the family Hawke. Throughout Dragon Age 2 we were constantly reminded and spent time with the matriarchal side of the lineage, the Amells. But throughout this adventure very little was ever spoken of the Hawke side. Legacy provides a brief glimpse into the other half of Hawke’s lineage, but to be honest I found myself asking “Why do I care?” They never brought it up during the main campaign of the game, at all. I mean yes they made references to Hawke’s father so we know he existed and had some relationship with his children however not once did they ever mention that the family may have some additional purpose or strange history. It felt very tacked on.

Now this is not to say that it was not thoroughly enjoyable and interesting. As we explored our way through this Grey Warden prison my companions continued their interesting and witty banter back and fourth that elicited more than a few chuckles. Something about Isabela saying “See, this is why I don’t wear pants,” will go a long way to produce a wry smile across a man’s face.

But they didn’t stop with just an interesting story. The weapon received is not just some obligatory “here’s a fancy new sharp killy thing.” It plays an integral role in the story. In fact without it the story itself could not proceed. It’s called “The Key” and helps Hawke to complete the task at hand. While this may not sound all that interesting what sets it apart is that as the game goes on you assign traits to it based on what you want from it. Think of it a little like the weapons in Fable III, but better implemented. It’s this aspect I would like to see them develop more in future Dragon Age 2 expansions and Dragon Age 3. It became such that I got excited when I got to upgrade my weapon because I couldn’t wait to see what was out there for me. By the end I had developed the perfect weapon for my character and would have loved to have spent a little more time with it.

Now as you can tell from trailers and various pre-release information you are once more dealing with some talking Darkspawn that were believed to be seen for the first time in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening. This was referenced in the game by Anders (who was in my party) and questioned if there was a relation between the two. What began to unfold was a much more interesting story that also gives players some insight as to the origins of the Darkspawn altogether. This was like an unexpected present of knowledge and lore and who doesn’t love that?

While the story in Legacy isn’t going to make Dragon Age 2 a game of the year it did certainly make me feel better about Dragon Age 2 as a whole. It’s something that helps create a more complete offering. While it’s not earth shattering ground breaking by any means it’s still better than you see in some games.

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For this reason we’re giving Dragon Age 2: Legacy gets a 4 out 5.

 

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Rating: 4.0/5 (6 votes cast)

Irrelevant Characters & Creators

Have you ever played a game, thinking, “Wow, my character seems to have no effect on the world around him/her?”.  You walk up to an NPC, and they behave oddly for someone of your race/class/gender?

This woman NPC totally wants to get in the female character's panties.

This happened to me in Divinity II: Ego Draconis.  I created a sultry female character, ran up to guys hoping for some flirting action, yet there was no option for flirting.  However, when I interacted with women, the women would flirt with me, or I would have an option to flirt with them.  Now, I didn’t plan on making my female a lesbian.  And it’s incredibly frustrating to find that the game so blatantly leaves a double standard for male versus female characters.  I can just hear it, “Well of COURSE the male characters have to flirt or be flirted with women NPCs.  But female characters?  PSH.  They don’t need to have the same options with men, of course not.”

I did just go on a bit of a rant.  But honestly, what was the point of letting me choose my character’s gender if the world around me doesn’t respond appropriately?

This just brings to light an issue with irrelevant characters, or irrelevant character creations.

Please tell me where the custom character is in this scene?

For example, take White Knight Chronicles.  You go into this whole process of creating a character, but when you get to the game, what does your character actually do?  Hardly anything.  They basically just sit in the background watching.  By default, you’re given control of someone ELSE, not the character you spent a bunch of time making.  Look at all the cool powers… that some other character is doing.  Essentially, your character in White Knight Chronicles is irrelevant.  You could have played the whole game without them.  They didn’t contribute anything to the story.  What was the point?!  “But… but… you got to make someone!!  Isn’t that cool enough?!”

There’s also Two Worlds II, in which you create a character to control throughout the story.  Two Worlds II also has an online component… but the character you created for the story mode isn’t able to cross over to the online mode.  You have to create a whole other character for online gaming.  WTF?!  “Why on earth would you want to take the SAME CHARACTER over from story mode to online?!  That just makes zero sense.”  **EDIT** Wadoobie claims this is so people won’t beef up their character in story mode, then cross over into online mode.  However, why didn’t they just include some sort of limitations, so you can still take you main character over to online mode, but you can’t have all the awesome armor or stats or something?  Or only have players evenly matched at the same level in multiplayer?

Be warned:  Dragon Age 2 spoilers below.  Do NOT read on if you haven’t finished DA2.

You're looking at the face of a terrorist. And someone integral to the storyline. Not Hawke.

Even Dragon Age 2 has a case of an irrelevant main character.  In the third act, the actual person who brings the clash of mages versus templars to a head isn’t your Hawke.  Nope!  It’s Anders, the brooding mage who is a stickler for the belief that mages should be free.  He’s the one who builds a bomb to blow up the chantry.  As he states, “I removed the chance of compromise, because there is no compromise.  Basically you were just as surprised as everyone else when the chantry exploded.  You may have had a hand in it, but you more than likely didn’t mean to and therefore weren’t any more relevant to the destruction of it.  And that’s the turning point of the story between mages and templars.  What happens from there on out is battle after battle towards the end of the game.

End Spoiler

Characters and situations like this certainly make the player feel disconnected from the game, to say the least.  Honestly, if the game Divinity 2 forced me to be a man, but still have the options to flirt with women, I’d be much happier than the current ‘I’m a girl but I can only hit on / be hit on by women’ situation.  In White Knight Chronicles, the overall question is, “Why did you make me create a character when it doesn’t do one damn thing?”.  For Two Worlds II, it takes the player out of the game to force them to create another character, and leaves them wondering why they can’t just use the initial character they created.  Even in Dragon Age 2, the events seem like my character had nothing to do with the story.  In that situation I was left feeling like my character didn’t deserve the title ‘Champion of Kirkwall’, because she really had no involvement.

What’s the worst pointless character you’ve ever encountered that gets you all fired up?  Be sure to leave your opinions in the comments!

-Kat

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

BioWare Taming Down the Love Scenes in Games

BioWare.  I love you, I really do, and everyone knows it.  But something has been bothering me lately, particularly with the arrival of the all new (but less awesome) Dragon Age game.  And this thing REALLY bothers me.  Because I like to get down and dirty when I game.  I want my character in an RPG to get in some hot romance.  Honestly, BioWare, I feel like you’re slipping a bit in the romance department.  Particularly in the scenes.

Female Shepards really make Kaidan nervous. And... I guess male Shepards, too.

First, let’s take the original game that got TONS of flack for being ‘too sexual’ (but all of us who actually played it loved the romance).  The original Mass Effect game had sexual tension, kissing, side boob, and a beautiful booty.  The scene that got incredibly harsh criticism was if you choose to have your female Shepard pursue a romance with Liara, the blue skinned alien.  But it was a gorgeous realization of teammates coming together as more than friends.  My female Shepard had a strong relationship with Kaidan.  So strong, that she skipped any romancing in ME2.

Then came Dragon Age: Origins, a game that had not only hot tenting scenes, but also two characters who would swing either way.  If you played as a male, and wanted to romance the sultry male elf, Zevran, you could.  If you played as a female, and wanted to get it on with the red headed female bard, Leliana, you could.  My female hero of Fereldan Avaline pursued a relationship with Alistair, which culminated in a beautiful romance scene.  After the scene, the option to have them kiss or hop in the tent again continued to be available.  It goes without saying that every time my party returned to camp, I would have Avaline and Alistair tenting.

In the sequel to the original Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 widened the number of romanceable options for the player.  In fact, Shepard could get it on with various races.  However, in Mass Effect 2, there was no complete nudity.  While Miranda unzips her suit to reveal bra and panties and Jacob strips off his shirt, there’s no sideboob and bum reveal.  And, unlike Dragon Age: Origins, there aren’t any sex motions.  What’s even worse, if you decide to remain faithful to your flame from ME1, you get a rather cold reception on Horizon, and all you’ll wind up doing when you could be getting it on with someone else is staring at a picture of them.  Pretty lame.

Anders Has Glowing Eyes!

Who can resist those glowing eyes? Oh... maybe the people who don't want to date a terrorist.

And in Dragon Age 2, the latest game out by BioWare, some romance scenes don’t have characters in their skivvies at all, and it fades to black WAAAAAY too early.  In fact, I don’t believe there’s an actual tenting scenes in any of the romances.  There might be some kissing, some frantic throwing-against-the-wall, and hand-holding-leading-to-the-bed, but that pales in comparison to the actual sex scenes in Dragon Age: Origins.  It was a huge disappointment to those of us excited to see the new scenes.  These new scenes actually left me in a “That’s IT?!!” state.

As you can see, BioWare has continued to tame down the love scenes in their games.  This makes me incredibly wary of the upcoming Mass Effect 3, and another sequel in the Dragon Age series.  In Mass Effect 3, especially, I’m hoping this trend BioWare has gone on won’t continue.  Because I’d really like to see an explosive reuniting scene with my Shepard and her former flame Kaidan.

BioWare, you may consider this my urgent plea that the toning down of romances and love scenes doesn’t continue for the upcoming games you have in store.  Seriously.  Please.

-Kat

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Rating: 5.0/5 (9 votes cast)

Dragon Age 2 Review

Here’s a little known fact: Polish the Console was essentially founded because of Dragon Age: Origins. We spent so much time having random conversations that stemmed from Dragon Age: Origins that we said “Hey, lets make a website out of it.” Dragon Age quickly became a series that we knew that we were going to follow closely and with much excitement. When they announced Dragon Age 2 we all felt that it seemed quick but we didn’t care. We couldn’t wait. It was more Dragon Age.

Dragon Age 2

That's a man on a serious mission

The more information that we heard about Dragon Age 2 the more we couldn’t wait to play. It’s very existence had us brimming with excitement. We counted down the days until its release like giddy school children count down to spring break. We even considered using up our sick days at the office to camp out in our basements and do nothing but play Dragon Age 2.

Dragon Age 2: Controls

While the controls aren’t revolutionary they are still quite good. Bioware chose to keep their tried and true Dragon Age scheme but give it an added punch. When playing Dragon Age: Origins the presence of an actual player wasn’t always needed. You could just set it to attack something and go make a sandwich while the game took care of itself. You took care of using talents and spells but overall it was an experience steeped in the command mentality of “Go kill that. Okay now go kill that.”

They chose to step up the game a bit by making it more action oriented. Instead of letting the game play itself they gave direct control to the user. No longer to you select who to attack, you attack EVERYTHING. Every swing of the sword / knife / staff is dictated by the user. For me this makes for a more solid and interesting method of gameplay. It makes the user feel as if they are really in control and not just making decisions for someone else.

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Dragon Age 2’s controls get a 4 out of 5

Dragon Age 2: Gameplay

Dragon Age: Origins was absolutely epic. There were long stretches spent attempting to accomplish one goal. Hours were spent in the Deep Roads and a Fade. You moved from area to area amassing a large army to fight an impending threat. You were picked to save the world from being overrun by evil and quite frankly that’s not something you can wrap up in a weekend and still have time to have dinner with the family.

dragon age 2 races

Does anyone else find the Qunari to be really attractive in this Dragon Age?

Dragon Age 2 takes a different approach. You are not fighting a horde of darkspawn on your way to stop the Archdemon. You have fled Ferelden during the blight and are now trying to create a better life for you and for your family. You get caught up in numerous political problem in the grand city of Kirkwall. You begin to amass a sizable fortune as a business man and because of this your status in the city is elevated and people begin to look up to you and your accomplishments. As you venture through your time as Hawke you really get a sense that Bioware has matured in their story telling for Dragon Age 2. It’s not just about questing and killing. You’re helping a city mired in political problems elevate itself and depending on how you play you can assume the role as it’s leader. Your actions bring about large political changes and ultimately seal your fate as a savior or a villain.

But it is because of these problems that you also don’t ever really leave. That’s a big change from Origins where you went quite literally all over the kingdom of Ferelden to get your job done. In Dragon Age 2 you spend you time either in Kirkwall or in the surrounding area. There’s isn’t much in the way of exploration.

When you do finally get the chance to explore and go cave diving you begin to see some of the problems when you release a game a little too quickly. Literally every cave and every house are exactly like every other cave and every other house. Some have doors that cannot open and start you in different areas but that is the only difference between them. They are literally exactly the same. This does a great deal to completely remove any sense of realism in Dragon Age 2.

While there were epic battles there were no epic quests. Bioware seems to be going after the casual gamer by making everything short and sweet and able to be wrapped up in 15 – 20 minutes. While this helps keep the game churning along at a decent clip it does very little to give you sense that what you are doing is really important. Important things take time. The take great effort. They take more time to complete than I take in the shower in the morning.

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Dragon Age 2’s gameplay gets a 3 out of 5

Dragon Age 2: Graphics

Dragon Age: Origins was not known for being the prettiest game at the party. In fact it was quite the opposite. It was known for being ugly, graphically underpowered (on consoles) and more or less visually unappealing. While it’s still not going to win any awards for being stunning they did definitely improve on what they had. This is most evident with the cameos of past party members. Textures are a little more realistic than they previously were and this is something to applaud, especially given the short time frame between releases.

dragon age 2 flemeth

My dog gives me this same look when he steals my shoe

That being said it has not elevated itself to a level where playing it will make you say “Wow that’s beautiful”. It will make you say “Okay that looks better” but it just doesn’t open up the way it could. When you look at games like Mass Effect 2 that are visually amazing and compare them to Dragon Age 2 you notice that things just don’t look quite right.

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Dragon Age 2’s graphics get a 3 out of 5

Dragon Age 2: Story

As we said before this isn’t a tale of fighting. This is a tale of growth both personal and political. It’s a tail of rising from your station to help a city regain it’s storied magnificence. It is a tale of a man (or woman) who finds their family name sullied and tarnished by a “black sheep” that you must work to rectify.

dragon age 2 hawke male mage

Just look at how awesomely brooding Hawke is

It’s a story that is more grown up and seems to reflect a mentality of “not every problem needs to solved with bloodshed”. That’s not to say that you won’t be throwing down and picking fights you do in fact do this. But you’re drawn into the middle of an unwanted Qunari presence as well as a violently growing schism between mages and templars.  You don’t get to sit on the sidelines or straddle the fence this time around. You witness injustices on both sides but still have to make a choice as to where you stand.

But Bioware is never just about the main story. The side quests in Dragon Age 2 are very interesting as well. When you start to engage your companions and learn more about them you find very interesting stories of kidnapping, hatred, fear, and avarice. You watch their stories unfold and in some instances you come to see that they are responsible for a great piece of the mess you find yourself in. When you’re not interacting with your companions you’re helping others to solve their problems but on more than one occasion this is not a one time quick fix. Their problems stay with you throughout your 7 year journey. The people you help or hurt in year 1 will pay you a visit later on your journey and they are going to have a fairly strong feelings about you. This idea that decisions have larger outcomes is something that I personally always enjoy seeing played out in a game. It makes the decision that much more nerve wracking to the point that I actually sat there thinking “what the hell should I say” for five minutes on more than one occasion.

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Dragon Age 2’s story gets a 4 out of 5

Dragon Age 2: Overall

Overall Dragon Age 2 is a solid game that is a step up in very many ways from its predecessor. The main story is more interesting and even the side quests are engaging and interesting. However there are a great many flaws that take place that cannot be overlooked. The entire game feels rushed and hurried and just not finished. Because of this the entire game suffers and what could very easily have been one of the greatest games of the year falls short. However it is still a very solid game that was wildly fun to play and fantastically interesting to watch unfold. For this reason we have to give Dragon Age 2 a 4 out of 5

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Rating: 3.3/5 (9 votes cast)

Things that will piss us off if in Dragon Age 2

I’m very eagerly looking forward to March 8th.  Honestly, I’m counting the days.  That’s when my very favorite game developer ever, BioWare, puts out the sequel to one of my very favorite video games, Dragon Age.  That’s right folks, Dragon Age 2 comes out on March 8th.  Hopefully you got your preorder in before January 11th.

But I’ve got to say, there were a few things from Dragon Age that I’m hoping not to encounter in Dragon Age 2.  Things that were so horrific, annoying, frustrating, or just plain ridiculous, that I never want to see them again.  Please add anything I missed in the comments.

  1. The Fade.  Okay, okay, I can understand that it’s a very real part of the world, and while I’m sure it’s cool to develop and show, it’s awful.  In all the additional playthroughs of Dragon Age that I started, every single one is stopped in the Fade.  Why’s that?  It sucks.  There’s no possibility of tenting, or having help from your party members (until the HARD final battle), and the music!  That is the stuff of nightmares.  And Niall…drives me crazy.  I wish there was a slapping option built in the game just for him.

    The Fade

    This place is the stuff of nightmares. Literally.

  2. Isolde.  Enough said.  Watch this video and you’ll understand why.  If you watch this whole video without pausing it…and without running away screaming or sticking cotton balls in your ears so they don’t start bleeding, you deserve an achievement or trophy.
  3. Broodmothers.  Especially the ones in Awakening.  That was the easiest fight of my life.  Kind of a letdown after the ridiculously difficult battle in Dragon Age: Origins.  All I know is…I hate tentacles.  And Broodmothers.
  4. Any Rituals that Require my Lover to Sleep with Anyone Else.  ‘Nuff said.
  5. Zevran.  Sorry, Calamitybird, but I get seriously creeped out by him turning everything into a sexual innuendo.  Even if that’s what Wadoobie & I do on an hourly basis.  Maybe it’s the accent.
  6. Too Much Time Spent Underground. Yes, I found the dwarves missions fascinating, but still.  I felt like half my game was spent underground.  The political intrigue, the Deep Roads, Oghren’s wife, the golems…  I was dying for fresh air when I finally left that place.  I can’t imagine what it was like for those people who are claustrophobic.
  7. Inventory Management.  I’m a person who hoardes things.  My first entire playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins, I was incredibly frustrated that I had so much stuff, and so little space.  I hated selling things.  But I realized it was a necessity.  I particularly hated the Mage’s Tower because once you were in the Tower, you really couldn’t sell anything until you were completely done going through the Tower.  That drove me nuts.  And yes, I would walk all the way back through the Deep Roads just to sell things.
  8. Not Being Able to Talk to your Teammates Directly.  In Dragon Age: Awakening, you couldn’t start a conversation with your teammates directly.  That absolutely bothered me to no end.  I felt it limited what I could learn about my teammates.  Why don’t they want to talk to me, I would wonder.  Oh, I’ve gotta stand in front to a statue and be able to talk, or stare at a tree?  Interesting.  I mean, I like that it was creative and inventive, but I also want to talk to them normally as well.

    Zevran

    I'm getting the shivers just looking at him...

  9. Dogs at the Camp.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I think dogs are adorable.  But that damn Mabari Hound just kept barking away while I was trying to have a sexy conversation with Alistair.  Alistair would be saying something sweet, but all I could hear was “Woof, woof!!!”.
  10. People that Die Right After a Conversation.  This bugs the hell outta me.  I have healing potions, I have spells to heal, and yet, somehow, they die IMMEDIATELY after you end the conversation with them.  This one got me so mad, I wrote a whole post about it.

What would you hate to see in Dragon Age 2?

-Kat

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Rating: 1.8/5 (5 votes cast)