There’s no party like a Dragon Age II party cuz a Dragon Age II party don’t stop

There comes a time in every gamer’s life when they realize what they are as it relates to their hobby. Are you a console or PC gamer? Are you a fan of RPGs? MMOs? FPSs? Do you like hot women and bare-chested men? Ahem…

I just finished up with my first go-round with Dragon Age II, and I must say, it was quite the ride.  For those of you who are still playing through your first go, I encourage you to stop reading this now…I’ll give you a break in the action just to be fair…

After picking my class, I was whisked away to Lothering (or what was left of it) with Hawke and family.  What followed was a tremendously intricate and highly detailed storyline that really captured me.  I was less excited about the first “Act” (the game storyline is broken into three “Acts” which serve as separators), but after I moved into Act 2, I was fully immersed.

To me, the biggest non-combat change they made to the game itself was the addition of actual voice-overs for the main character, Hawke, which is who you play.  In the first Dragon Age, although you had a ton more customization options (three classes, three races, etc.), your responses were limited to the text you saw on the screen, and you never ‘heard’ a reply or statement from your character.  Adding this into the game made it much easier to enjoy the dialog between the main character and the various other characters in the game.  As in the first game, you have a choice as to how you can respond in each situation…levelheadedly, like a smart-ass, or with an iron fist.

In my first go-round, I mostly stayed levelheaded but occasionally went one of the other two ways depending on the situation.  It definitely gives you tons of options to get to where you want to go in the story.  Clearly the storyline is going to go in a certain direction no matter how you respond, but your choices and attitudes directly affect your relationships with your companions, and depending on how you want your foursome to look in combat, you might want to really pay attention to that.

One thing I really disliked was what seemed to be a lack of variety in weapons and armor types.  It seems like they took a step backwards.  Although I would have to say that most of the cooler weapons and armor I enjoyed in Dragon Age was done through developers and the like (a site I loved to frequent was Dragon Age Nexus, I encourage you all to do the same), I had hoped that Bioware would pull out the “big guns” so to speak and give you some great epic looking (and epic effecting) gear.  The end-game gear is pretty nice (at least insofar as the warrior is concerned) but I shouldn’t have had to wait that long to get some very cool gear.  Hell, even the City Guard is better equipped than I was.

There were other changes made as well, larger combat changes which affected how you strategized and fought in combat.  Gone is the “Tab to the next enemy” option, and while I agree that this forces you out of the traditional hack-n-slash mode of gameplay, sometimes the screen can be too littered with enemies to have to rely on point and click.  I know you can hold down the “Tab” key to bring up a highlighted list of names and click on those, but it’s not any easier really to me.

But overall, Bioware did a helluva job with this game.  The characters are well developed, and they all progress nicely throughout your journey.  The mob animations and characters are well done as well, mostly the changes to the Darkspawn and the like are really done well.  The talent and attribute trees are good for use as well, and easy to use.  They’ve done a nice job setting up the storyline for additional content later on, as well as bringing back some notable characters from the first Dragon Age (I won’t spoil that for you).

If you haven’t already invested in this one, what are you waiting for?  Go get it, you’ll thank me later.

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