Dragon Age II

Late in 2009, BioWare developed and Electronic Arts published the Western fantasy roleplaying game Dragon Age: Origins, which received critical acclaim much like the developer’s other works, and was seen as something of a spiritual successor to the same company’s older Baldur’s Gate series, which also sported a fantasy environment. Thus, for a sequel to see the light of day was unsurprising, with Dragon Age II for the most part providing an experience on par with that of its prequel.

The sequel mostly builds upon its predecessor’s action-based battle system, the chief difference being that the player’s controlled character can hack away at enemies with the X button. Various tactics control actions by the player’s three allies, which can be of three different classes: warrior, rogue, and mage. Using a skill or item makes the player wait for a while before they can use one again, which can somewhat make tough some of the more grueling battles, even on the easiest difficulty setting, with some foes leveling with the player, and there aren’t ample grinding opportunities. Even so, the game mechanics work well.

Aside from a few points of no return that necessitate the player keep multiple save files, interaction is well above average, with easy menus and crystal-clear direction on how to advance the main storyline and the countless sidequests, and most dialogue in cutscenes is skippable with the square button if players would rather read than listen to the voices.

The story is largely on par with its predecessor’s, which is a good thing, with plenty character development and the protagonist hardly being blank-slate, although there are some untranslated terms in the in-game fictitious language.

As with most Western RPGs, the soundtrack isn’t terribly memorable, but it gets the job done, and the voicework is always top-notch for a BioWare game.

The graphics look nice, as well, with different equipment affecting the protagonist’s appearance, although there is occasional bland texturing and choppiness.

Finally, the sequel is fairly short, taking less than a day’s worth of time to complete, although there’s plenty lasting appeal in the trophy system.

Overall, Dragon Age II is for the most part a solid sequel worthy of its predecessor’s name, not to mention another feather in BioWare’s cap, given its enjoyable action-oriented battle system, great control, engaging narrative, solid voicework, polished visuals, and plentiful replay value. It is a little rough around the edges, particularly with the fact that enemies leveling with the player can make the game daunting to play on difficulties higher than Casual, not to mention a few points of no return and a general forgettable soundtrack, but is recommended to those who enjoyed the first game.

The Good:
+Good action-oriented battle system.
+Great control with crystal-clear direction on how to advance.
+Excellent story.
+Superb voicework.
+Nice visuals.
+Trophies add plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Enemies level up with the player, so no grinding.
-Some points of no return.
-Forgettable music.

The Bottom Line:
A great sequel.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 3
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 8/10
Story: 9/10
Music/Sound: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: <1 Day

Overall: 8.5/10

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