Dragon Age II Review – The Champion Utterly Nameless

Dragon Age II heralds yet another title where the sad case of a sequel finds itself under the depths of gloom and pedestrian status. Dragon Age II takes on the heavy burden of delivering the same pride, power, and unity of the Grey Wardens along with the history of the Dragon Age universe along with references to Dragon Age: Origins to make a cohesive title that is spectacular in every way of the word. Instead, Dragon Age II fails at every mark, downgrading the action, limiting the storyline to a hackneyed and unbalanced plot of “the Champion,” and finally making personal relationships less emphatic and truly affecting to the hardcore gaming enthusiast audience. Dragon Age II had the marks of a sequel that wanted to extend the action of the first one beyond its realm of endearment, but instead created a title that just became lackluster in the end.

The storyline of Dragon Age II is a simple one. It begins with an interrogation scene of a Dwarven male, apparently being asked by the seemly antagonist about the Champion and his whereabouts. The tale is relived to explain the rise of a peasant/noble/dwarf (depending on the previous save or pre-set history) that makes a rise to power. That is as expansive as the story of the Champion truly ever gets in Dragon Age II and this is where the central problems lie. Gone are the mythical elements of magic, war, mystery, and intrigue that made Dragon Age: Origins a title that was simply remarkable. The game begins rather haphazardly by downgrading the Darkspawn, with 4 ordinary people fighting through a massive horde, something which took the skills of the Grey Wardens. To a point, everything gets crammed into the Codex through database updates, providing a rather unwarranted summary for players who previously never engaged with Dragon Age: Origins. The lack of use of specific cutscenes or even montage homage to the previous title’s characters is sorely missing which can make even veteran players of the franchise disappointed beyond reproach. Characters, any if included from the first one, are grandfathered into the Dragon Age II’s storyline, leaving a severe gap in not only the essence of the suspense of each character but furthermore development flaws that are widely abrasive. The storyline in its own right for lack of better words is structured poorly along with the pacing of the gameplay not helping one bit. Dragon Age II’s storyline had a lot of chances to further itself and equally accommodate newer players, but its lack of respect for the first title and newer players leaves it very limited in its upbringing in Thedas.

Dragon Age II comes with a decent combat structure which follows the leveling apparatus through quest mission guidelines along with traditional side-quests but all of this is not without issues. The combat structure has been widely denigrated. The style of the combat is similar to Dragon Age: Origins, but the skill trees themselves make spells largely less effective in presentation. More than 20 spells are all for innate purposes, taking the fun out of the feeling players received of power and moreover responsibility of a true Grey Warden, something which came along with not only conquering the Fade but also living through dragon’s blood. The skill trees are sorely disappointing, as not only are the skillsets less effective visually, but certain spells fail to lock onto targets. Area of Effect spells sometimes fail to work regardless of the high level along with certain blood magic spells. The spells being less intense is truly a shame and the leveling of these abilities is equally unwarranted to a degree. Within Dragon Age: Origins, abilities came through with a layering of storyline. Blood Magic was emphasized heavily, while there was emotion and drama about its moral choices. In Dragon Age II, Blood Magic and other specializations come up randomly into the game, without any real volition within the game. The mission structure follows main plot points and developed plot points, but a large portion of the game is featured throughout the city and the variety of mountainous landscapes fall short despite any visual appeal on either the Xbox 360 or the PC versions  (both of which we reviewed).  There just constantly feels like there is no intensity, no real deadline for the main protagonist to live by, or no greater threat which is imminent like Dragon Age: Origins that warrants calling him the Champion. Conversely, the pacing is virtually oblivious which formulates just going around multiple city points, into taverns, or local shacks taking missions from “mysterious strangers” and coming into very little shock and awe moments that can make Dragon Age II memorable in its own accord.

Dragon Age II is a game which shows that even the greatest of anticipated sequels can fall flat on its face and into the legend of Thedas for being the easiest forgettable story ever told of the Champion, or this concurrent Earth’s lore as completely forgettable or ending up in the bargain bin at your local store in a few months’ time. Dragon Age II has no real storyline adventure while keeping the pacing to a screeching minimum, taking little elements of the first epic adventure and managing to barely fuse them properly in the context of the current game for new players or novices, providing next to no variety in terms of locale, creating a repulsive leveling structure with an equivalent horrible design of skill-trees,  and finally curtailing its own progression with a half- articulated storyline of the Champion who seems to be a lesser hero than the first title with nothing more unique but everything less unique in form or combinability. Dragon Age II is a title those players of Dragon Age: Origins will inevitably find themselves playing through, while not remembering it as a true sequel which is too hard to imagine.

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