Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Revisting Dragon Age 2

I don't think it's any surprise when I say I am huge Roleplaying game fan. The stories that type of game can offer is usually vast and rich (our keyword is usually here). When the first Dragon Age released, the hype around it was enormous, and rightly so. I played the game on my 360 (my first Bioware game - I was a late bloomer), and instantly fell in love. The characters, the story, the way you shaped the world -- It was everything I wanted in a game. So when Dragon Age 2 was announced, to say I was excited, was an understatement. However, upon playing I found that DA2 failed to excite me like the first one had. I found the lack of environments annoying. The once organic nature of getting to know your companions was now replaced by the Mass Effect formulaic approach (do a major quest --> talk to your friends --> do a major plot quest --> talk to your friends). The main story never seemed to gain the momentum to keep you wanting to play. The whole game just felt rushed and a bit sloppy. I got to the end of it, put it down, and didn't finally beat it til a few months later just so I could get it out of my queue.

 Now,  just a year later, I decided to start the game again. My second experience with the game has been vastly different than the first. In the span of a two months, I've started three new characters and beaten the game with each. I'm actually enjoying the game, moreso than I have any other in a long while. My complaints still stand, but on this second go around, I find myself a lot more forgiving. Despite the process of getting to know my companions, I found them extremely likeable (not that this is any surprise, it is a Bioware game). I feel as if I can see what Bioware was trying to achieve with it's multiple story plots (broken down into Acts in the game). While in DA1, we were focused on one group's mission -the Warden's getting rid of the blight- in DA2 we follow one person and see how the shape the world they live in. Maybe I'm tardy to the party on realizing all that, but DA2 was a jarring change from the intensely focused premise of DA1. After all this time, I feel I can truly appreciate what DA2 was trying to create.

A lot of people knocked the combat in DA2, but I L O V E it. I love the face paced nature, I love the multiple trees (force mage all the way), I love being able to make my rogue into a tank. Yes, it was extremely frustrating having to revisit the same three areas over and over, but I find myself forgiving that since playing as a different class each time offers a new experience.

Am I say that DA2 is the best game ever? Not at all. It certainly has it flaws, but it seems Bioware is eager to address them with it's next installment. I'm just pointing out that maybe it's audience (myself included) were a bit too harsh on the game at first glance. What I would mainly like to see brought back in DA3 is the natural approach to getting to know your companions. Have them stop me in the middle of a dungeon to chat, have them react to an NPC hitting on my character, keep the banter between them. Characters make a game. Even if they boast the most indepth personality around, if the execution figuring it out is wrong, then the character falls flat. Example? In DA1, out nowhere, a character stops your player to give them an item along with dialogue. It seems like such a small thing, but it really helps bring them to life for you.

Regardless of what the general consensus is on the game, I am happy that I was finally able to change my opinion on the game. I hope to see nothing but good things coming from the DA team in the future.

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