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My Dragon Age II review has been submitted to Machinima, but I wanted to take some space to discuss the game with all of you. I also wanted to post random (and sometimes stupid) observations that were not appropriate for a proper review. So let’s get to it! Here are a bunch of scattered thoughts on Dragon Age II. Spoilers ahead!!!
– I fought the temptation to name my character Ethan. This would have made him Ethan Hawke. In my head, people in Thedas would constantly ask him, “What was it like boning Uma Thurman?” Instead, my rogue was named RPad Hawke and my warrior was named Raymond Hawke. I’m planning to play as a female mage for my third run. I’ll most likely name her Ether Hawke, which plays on Ethan Hawk and is a tribute to dear friend.
– A lot fanboys have complained about the game’s story, saying that it’s too small. I think those people are idiots. Certainly this chapter of Dragon Age is more focused and centers on Hawke’s adventure in Kirkwall. Taking away some of the freedom of the original allowed for tighter storytelling. Furthermore, this focused tale has expanded the world of Dragon Age. It’s obvious that something bigger is in the works. Flemeth is on the loose. The conflict between mages and templars is worse than ever. The chantry is searching for the Hero of Ferelden (Dragon Age: Origins) and the Champion of Kirkwall (Dragon Age II). I’m expecting something grand when it all comes together. Hopefully there’s room for the Scourge of Antiva, the Vixen of Orlais, and That Guy from Seheron.
– There are a lot of English, Irish, and Scottish accents in Kirkwall. In my head, I kept hearing WWE Sheamus. He hangs around The Hanged Man pub and threatens people by screaming, “Buy me a drink or I’ll kick you in the Kirkwalls, fella!”
– The game’s characterization is topnotch and the banter between companions is brilliant. The writers did a wonderful job at making you lust for the pirate wench (Isabela), shake your head at the innocent mage that plays with blood magic (Merrill), want to slap the ex-slave (Fenris) for being a dick, and more. The most impressive characterization was the 180 the writers did with Anders. He was fun, foppish wise-cracking sidekick in Dragon Age: Origins Awakening. Although he still spouts a sharp joke every now and then, circumstances have made him darker and brooding. His actions in the game’s third act were shocking. You wouldn’t have thought that the guy you met in Awakening would be capable of doing what he did in Dragon Age II, but the writers did a fine job and making it believable.
– There are a lot of bisexual characters in Dragon Age II. Most of the companions with romance trees can be courted by male or female “Hawke” characters. I applaud BioWare for allowing numerous heterosexual and homosexual romances for different kinds of gamers. It’s modern and progressive. That said, I’m a bit surprised that the company didn’t keep pushing the envelope to allow for an incest angle between the Champion and his sibling. Hell, Marvel did it in Ultimates.
– It was great seeing so many characters from the first game and Awakening. Alistair, Zevran, Leliana, Flemeth, Bodahn, Sandal, Nathaniel, and several others appearances. Some other characters are mentioned by name in the dialogue. One of my favorite lines was the bartender talking about the dwindling pigeon population in Ferelden, which was obviously the work of pigeon-stomping golem Shale from Origins. It was cool that Alistair could be a king or a drunk depending on the choices you made in the first game. It was fantastic learning about Flemeth’s contingency plan. DA2 had a lot of great nods to gamers that played the original.
– Speaking of Sandal, I think I’m going to join the growing number of Sandal conspiracy theorists. There’s something about this enchantment-inducing dwarf with a (supposed) mental disability that’s…not quite right. It’s funny how he was in the middle of the madness at Ferelden and Kirkwall. It’s funnier that when nobody is around, he can dispatch a horde of darkspawn through a method he describes as “not enchantment”. He’s off to Orlais next, so perhaps the third game takes place there…or perhaps he’s the maker, come back to the world to reshape it through a series of drastic events. Yeah. That makes the most sense.
– I honestly think all the people bitching about this game are doing it just to bitch. It’s a great RPG. I’m going to play it at least four times. I don’t do that with bad games. Yet if you believed everything you read on the Internet, this is the biggest affront to Western RPGs in the last decade. It’s not a perfect game, but I think it’s getting unfairly knocked because it’s more accessible than the original and some hardcore gamers can’t stand change. I also think it’s getting knocked because it’s from BioWare; if the same game came out and it was made by a different developer then fans and critics alike would be heaping praise on it.
Anyway, those are some random thoughts on the Dragon Age II. I’ll post my “real” review when it runs on Machinima. For now, let’s chat it up (please)!