Dragon Age 2


No one picks up an RPG for instant gratification, but Dragon Age 2 really takes its time to get going. The sword-and-sorcery heavy game is framed as a story-within-a-story, as secondary characters try to piece together the history of the hero. That's your character, Hawke – another meticulously customisable BioWare lead who can be created using the gender, attributes, haircut and cheekbones your quest-loving heart desires. Although you only get to play as one race this time, a trade-off for the full voicing acting of the lead character. It's a clear nod to the sagas and epics that inspire the Dragon Age world. The only problem is, it means the game spends the early stages holding you at arm's length when what you really want to do is run straight into the murky brown olde worlde and start swishing your blade around.

The good news is that once the action warms up, you'll be thoroughly and happily involved in your heroic deeds. The plot puts you back in the fantastical land of Thedas, under attack from the evil darkspawn. With your homeland of Ferelden overrun by the blight, you have to travel to the city state of Kirkwald to seek sanctuary, do a bunch of quests, and ultimately realise your shining heroic destiny –a destiny that, for all the game's flashback conceit, is partially invented as you play, with your choices going to inform the kind of hero your Hawke will become.
 The map comes in two flavours: day or night, depending on which you choose to access, with the former offering a lot of markets for trading and inventory-tweaking, and the latter a lot of ruffians for hacking down. You can thrash through the main quest if you want to, but in practice, the tug of the sidequests is too strong. You get an intoxicating sense of freedom from pottering about, rinsing NPCs for information and picking the adventures you'd like to have. But just as importantly, Dragon Age 2 engenders a sense of responsibility that draws you deeper into the story. That's a big deal when you consider just how uninviting the world is in some ways.

For one thing, it's not pretty. It's functional, but there are no LOTR-esque vistas to match the Tolkien-cribbing plot, and you won't see anything as brain-frazzling gorgeous as the spacescapes of sister title Mass Effect 2. Instead, it's earth tones, janky hair textures and pop-up baddies all the way. Also – and this is just a personal thing – not/ every/ female character needs to have breasts the size of her head. Live a little, BioWare. Embrace the B cup. And the dialogue, while mostly well-judged, clunks into mundanity every once in a while – there were a few times when I hit the "sassy remark" option, waited for Hawke to oblige, and then sank despairingly into the sofa as my character smirked out something not that clever at all.
But the thing about choosing what you say is that, even if the words that come out aren't perfect, they're still yours. And tending your relationships with your family and your party becomes critically important as you find your way with the game. I wanted to have a little hug with someone after my actions scored me a bit of affection from my sister. "Look," I thought to myself, emotionally, "I made her /love/ me." The other major thing it gets right is the combat: chunky feeling, with hugely detailed but highly accessible skill trees and tactics menus to help you get the most out of each team member. Lopping chunks off the darkspawn feels good

Dragon Age II Features
  • Embark upon an all-new adventure that takes place across an entire decade and shapes itself around every decision you make.
  • Determine your rise to power from a destitute refugee to the revered champion of the land.
  • Think like a general and fight like a Spartan with dynamic new combat mechanics that put you right in the heart of battle whether you are a mage, rogue, or warrior.
  • Go deeper into the world of Dragon Age with an entirely new cinematic experience that grabs hold of you from the beginning and never lets go.
  • Discover a whole realm rendered in stunning detail with updated graphics and a new visual style.
Dragon Age II Minimum System Requirements
  • OS: Windows 7 / Vista with SP2 / XP with SP3
  • CPU: 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, equivalent, or greater; 1.8 GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2, equivalent, or greater
  • RAM: 1.5 GB (Windows 7 / Vista), 1 GB (Windows XP) or greater
  • HD: 7 GB of hard drive space required
  • Video: ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro 256 MB, NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS 256 MB, or greater
  • WEI (Windows 7 / Vista): 4.5 (Windows Experience Index)
Electronic Arts

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