Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dragon Age II - Lady Hawke Arrives!

I'll start this off with being honest. I've only put about 10-15 hours into Dragon Age: Origins. It didn't click with me as much as I thought it would, especially after hearing everybody's praise. There was this barrier between Dragon Age: Origins and me; I'm not sure the reasoning. My experience with WRPGs is very limited, I've been a JRPG girl at heart. Lately, though, I've been looking for something different. I always appreciate choice in games, so I can't believe I haven't been able to get totally invested in a BioWare game sooner. Well, Dragon Age II broke the trend. It hooked me and kept me playing. I'll confess the beginning of the game isn't the strongest; you complete a wealth of quests and not much of the story shines through. Thankfully, as you go on more in the game, the narrative picks up, and there's great character development.

Where Dragon Age II succeeds most is in its ability to make you care. I'm just not experiencing many games that allow me to be emotionally invested in them. The decisions also weren't always that easy. There were some I agonized about; I also didn't want to hurt anybody's feelings. Yes, I'm still struggling to be anything but good or sarcastic in these games. I just can't be mean. I think in the end where the game is most impressive is its multidimensional characters. These characters were all endearing, but also had major flaws. I got fed up with a few a couple of times, but I never wanted to turn my back on them. Oh, man, one of the final scenes in Fenris' quest, literally broke my heart; it's this one line and how he says it. And this is exactly where Dragon Age II wins me over, I have lasting memories - scenes I remember with such preciseness.

One character I'm a little upset they didn't explore more was Bethany. I don't have a sister, but when I played the game, I really enjoyed the sister dynamic between Lady Hawke and Bethany. Bethany plays a larger role in the beginning of the game and then disappears for the majority of it. It's unfortunate; it was a character with wasted potential. Also, oh gosh, the scene with the mother (those who played it know what I'm talking about), it tore me up inside. I liked the family focus in this game; it really added some realism to it.

As for my romance options, sigh, I couldn't decide who to romance, and by the time I had settled on Fenris, it was too late in the game. This shows all too well my lack of experience with these games, but I wanted to be true and not lead on the wrong character. In the end, all I was left with was being alone. My favorite character in the game was Varric, and I'm really disappointed that he wasn't a romance option. The comical banter that he added during the journey was great comic relief for all the difficult decisions and burdens the game was tossing at you.

From what I played of Origins, I know the journey was grander and the story was deeper than what Dragon Age II offered. Dragon Age II also didn't have ten years of development time, and I can truly appreciate the game for what it was. I had fun, enjoyed the journey, and sometimes that's all you need in a game. This game is still better and more thought-provoking than half of what is on the market right now. Dragon Age II was obviously more accessible than the first one, and I don't think that's a bad thing. I think what BioWare needs to focus on is making it more balanced between the casual and hardcore fans. What I always admire about BioWare is that they don't make their games for one person or audience, they try to target a little bit of everybody with their games. That's remarkable and it's refreshing to see their zest to have a product that appeals for such a wide audience.

In the end, my Lady Hawke was respectable, moral, and not afraid to stand up for what's right. I admired the person I was able to be through her. I wish more games had this effect on me. I've been looking for games that make me feel something, I felt in Dragon Age II, and I walked away from it with fond memories - characters that touched me. I think it's safe to say this won't be my last WRPG. Dragon Age II got it right for me, and since they're hinting at a third game, I can't wait to see what they'll bring to the table. Hopefully, more depth and passion. You can never go wrong with either.

5 comments:

  1. I really must try another WRPG one of these days. I WANT to play them, but non- turn-based combat is extremely difficult for me. :P

    Not that I am bad, I can be rather good. But in a "so what?" kind of way.

    Who knows. I want to witness a good story as much as anyone.

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  2. Agree with you there, Greig. WRPGs are definitely outside of my comfort zone, but I'm so glad I gave this a spin. Games just haven't been making me care like they used to, and I've been longing for that again.

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  3. Aw man - I guess I already regurgitated my comments on the forums instead of here. Stupid power outage. But like I said over there - if they can find that perfect balance, and NOT 'sell out' at the same time, they can hit a resonance with a ton of people Mass Effect 2-style, and DAIII could turn out fantastic.

    Ironically a lot of these sound like what I've said about ME2. I wish I could romance this person, that that character was fleshed out more, etc. But BioWare's doing something right out there, even if took me way too many years to notice. And for all the complaints I've heard, I can only think, with these types of games - you get what you give.

    ...and going outside the comfort zone is all a part of the fun. ;-)

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  4. Awesome comment, Liz. I couldn't agree with you more. I'm excited to try the Mass Effect games, I only logged about 5-7 hours into the first one. I should probably go back to that. I love choice in games, so I don't know why I didn't push myself sooner.

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  5. There's a lot to be said about the choices BioWare lets you make. Shepard, and I'm sure Hawke as well, really grow on you quick because he/she is literally your creation, while breathing their own life into the character at the same time (lines, voice acting). It's quite interesting and a good example of that balance, I think.

    I'm still split on DAII - it seems to have a lot of elements that I loved in Mass Effect 2. At the same time, any game that I play post-ME2 is going to have a ton to live up to. Even a BioWare game.

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