Dragon Age II screenshot
Dragon Age II screenshot

You're introduced to the myth first. Hawke in the particular game we're shown is a strapping, broad-shouldered type who is joined by his sister. He slashes through hordes of enemies that have been streaming in continuously for a good 20 seconds, and almost single-handedly takes them out as his kid sis takes on the stragglers with arcane spells.

Next you're shown what actually happened. Hawke is gruff, a kind of homeless Gerard Butler who is surrounded by a scraggly clan of family members. And the fight is horrific in comparison. The clean blows you made in the myth scene are replaced with a bloody, wound-filled battle. Your mum is there too. She's frail and middle aged, attempting to fight to save your little brother from being torn apart by monsters. By the end of it his brother-in-law becomes infected and it's up to you whether to kill him yourself or have your sister do it.

As opposed to playing through a single ongoing story you'll be shown bits and pieces that form the anecdotes of Hawke's 10-year journey. The fact that it's condensed in such a way lends itself to the decision you're forced to make throughout the game. Specifically, you will actually be able to remember them and see the impact they have on the world.

And like the combat system, the dialogue trees have been built for mainstream consumption. You're now shown an "Emotion Wheel" to help you interpret the dialogue options you're given. A sentence of dialogue will be paired with a little icon. An olive branch will indicate diplomacy, a drama mask will imply your sentence will be buried in sarcasm. It's built for user friendliness. That icon of a fist? No prizes if you can guess what that stands for.

What's impressive is that these behaviours will begin to settle into your character. If you consistently have Hawke making sarcastic remarks then he/she will begin shouting sarcastic battle cries or sly remarks to NPCs before you even get a chance to lay a hand on the dialogue options.

But as a BioWare title, all roads lead back to the story and in terms of its plot, Dragon Age comes off as one of the more interesting attempts to construct a narrative in an RPG. Because not only are you trying to unveil Hawke's true identity, you're simultaneously creating his myth as a hero with every choice you make.

Dragon Age 2 is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on March 11, 2011.

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Rowland's Avatar

Rowland

Decent game though it is, I'm afraid Dragon Age is a linear, commercially driven game franchise masquerading as an RPG, designed to appeal to the more casual gamers (wider audience).

Despite excellent story-telling and narrative, don't be fooled by the RPG tag - it's a Fantasy Adventure. Origins was more like an interactive book than an RPG and DA 2 looks like being no different.

These games could have been absolute classics if Bioware had stuck to their principles and developed open worlds with exploration and discovery, wide township interaction, factions, proper leveling, skill tree, item mechanics and flexible micro management - then factored in their excellent story telling and dialogue approach.

Dragons Age would then have sat alongside and challenged the likes of open world greats such as Baldurs Gate, Fallout, Witcher, Elder Scrolls etc. It's the fact that it's a fake RPG that's hugely disappointing and concerning for adult/serious gamers and fans of RPG's.

Elder Scrolls Oblivion is an RPG - choice of camera perspective, in-depth character choices, open world, better graphics, flexible micro-management, larger scale and scope.. etc, which came out early 2006 !

Nearly 5 years on and the Dragons Age franchise is nowhere near Oblivion's standard and quality in any regard whatsoever - shouldn't that tell you something ?
Posted 13:21 on 03 September 2010
Neon-Soldier32's Avatar

Neon-Soldier32

Tbh it sounds a little too different, but a chnage is as good as a rest
Posted 22:01 on 02 September 2010
dudester's Avatar

dudester

I want this game and I may add I want this game!
Posted 21:05 on 02 September 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Good read. Certainly cannot wait for this. Didn't download any DLC for Origins. Just played 'Stone Prisoner' DLC which I got with the collectors edition of Origins. This time however will be different. I shall be downloading future DLC for Dragon Age 2.
Posted 20:51 on 02 September 2010

Game Stats

Release Date: 11/03/2011
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: RPG
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 934 49
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