|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: July 26, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Language, Sexual Content, Violence|
by Becky Cunningham
Dragon Age II is a controversial game, featuring an unusual narrative structure and some drastic changes from its predecessor, Dragon Age: Origins. While fan opinion was mixed on the game's more action-packed battle system, most people who played it agreed that it suffered in several ways from its short development cycle. While I enjoyed Dragon Age II despite its faults, I found it prudent to go into its first major downloadable content pack, Dragon Age II: Legacy, with few expectations. Fortunately, Legacy is a solid DLC adventure that demonstrates how BioWare has been listening to the constructive criticism of its fans.
Once installed, Legacy is easily started by clicking on an object in Hawke's current abode. The DLC can be played at any point in the main campaign, though players may wish to be at least level 10 in order to have a reasonable diversity of skills at hand for Legacy's challenges. Once started, Legacy makes good use of Dragon Age II's narrative device by introducing the scenario via a conversation between Cassandra and Verric. The player will be able to take any living companions along, including Hawke's sibling.
The story begins with Hawke investigating an attack by the Carta (Kirkwall's local "mafia") on Hawke's family. Encountering some crazy Carta dwarves who want Hawke's blood for some reason, the party follows them into an ancient Warden prison in search of answers. The entire adventure takes place in the Carta compound and Warden prison, but both areas are fairly large and there are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. There are even a few side quests to complete, though none of them are particularly complex. Most importantly to critics of the original game, these new areas are unique and do not suffer from the "same dungeons repeated with different sealed doors" syndrome found in the main game. Every room on the map can be accessed, and the unique design allows for better puzzles and traps.
The battles in Legacy have also been improved somewhat. The development team appears to have made some effort to keep humanoid enemies from appearing out of thin air, with Carta dwarves bursting in from behind closed doors instead. Demons and Darkspawn still tend to poof in out of nowhere, but there are fewer fights in which Hawke faces several waves of insta-spawning enemies. Instead, enemies have been placed throughout the dungeon in a way that generally makes sense, either waiting to confront Hawke or finding an opportune location for an ambush. This makes Legacy's battles feel more organic and less "arcadey" than those in the main game.
Legacy's story is hardly great literature, but it involves several interesting new characters and gives the player a couple of complex Dragon Age-style choices to make. It also expands on Hawke's family history and the history of the Wardens and the Blights. It's fully voice-acted, including special companion chat that was recorded for the new dungeon. Several of Hawke's companions get unique scenes and dialog if you take them along, while others don't. I recommend bringing Hawke's sibling, Anders, and Verric along for the most interesting narrative experience.