This guest review was written by Dan Jones.
Dragon Age 2 is the sequel to Dragon Age: Orgins, a classic swords and elves fantasy RPG, which before playing Origins I used to say “HA, what kind of a nerd plays fantasy RPGs?”, but after several playthroughs of Origins I excepted and embraced my status as a nerd. And Dragon Age 2 is no different. It’s a game designed to bring out your inner nerd.
Dragon Age 2 starts a during the start of Origins, the army of Fereldan(aka Medieval Britain) had been destroyed by the evil darkspawn at Ostagar. You play as Hawke (you get to choose your first name), guiding your family from Lothering, a small village near Ostagar which has just been attacked. You flee to Kirkwall, a city state in the Free Marches which somewhat resembles Medieval Germany, yet the majority of people sound English. So, you are in Kirkwall and what surprised me is the lack of over arching threat. In other fantasy games, some evil Beast of Gamgaroth or something has risen and you must go on a quest to defeat it. In DA2, the first major quest when you reach Kirkwall is to make money, and lots of it for an expedition into the Deep Roads. However you soon realise that Kirkwall is a powder keg of conflict just waiting to go off. There’s the Qunari, a group of horned giant warriors who hate society and act like emo teenagers, who are trapped in the city. Oh and the Chantry(Catholic Church) hates them. There’s also the mages and their Templar overlords that are at edge largly due to the fact that the Templer leader isn’t a very nice person. There isn’t any kind of major goal, until the game kicks it up a notch and everything comes tumbling down.
Now, the combat. A lot of people say that the combat means that DA2 should be PC exclusive, and I tell those people that the Maker will spit on them, and immediately go back to chopping people in half with rather large swords. I usually play as a warrior, decked out with a two handed weapon. I like the combat, the warrior class can be a little underpowered against big bosses, the rogue goes down quicker than Didier Drogba and the mage is just way overpowered but at the end of the fight, when you’ve won you get this sense of satisfaction that you don’t normally get in games like Call of Duty. And Dragon Age 2 isn’t shy with showing off blood, guts and gore either.
The environment is brilliant, Kirkwall is a beautifully rendered city but it’s outside the city, in the dungeons of the Free Marches the problems lie. The game can become repetitive in the recycled dungeons with enemies spawning in the same areas all the time. However, the characters are brilliant. From the hairy chested dwarf Varric to mage hating emo elf Fenris, Dragon Age 2 features a range of brilliant characters. With a whole new speech system that gives you more fun and makes the characters much deeper than in Origins. For example I romanced pirate tart Isabella, but there’s a lot more to her character than meets the eye. The same goes for most major characters.
The fact is that Dragon Age 2 is a brilliant game that I have no doubt will go from strength to strength with DLC releases. With an ending that screams Dragon Age 3 is a reality to its glorious fantasy rooftops , this is one game, and one franchise that you definitely shouldn’t miss.