|System: PS3, X360, PC|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: March 8, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Greig McAllister
In 2009, BioWare awed gamers with Dragon Age: Origins, an expansive, story-rich game that put players in the role of a Grey Warden as they fought the Darkspawn and saved the world from another blight. In March 2011, BioWare intends to awe gamers again with Dragon Age 2. In this epic sequel, the main story will not follow the Grey Wardens, but will instead follow that of Hawke, the legendary Champion of Kirkwall.
Who is the Champion of Kirkwall? Where is Kirkwall? Kirkwall is a largely populated city in the Free Marches, a collection of city states to the north of Ferelden. As you may recall, Ferelden is the country in which Origins took place. BioWare intends to make use of a much larger area of Thedas in Dragon Age 2, making it a much more expansive setting. The true nature of the Champion of Kirkwall remains a mystery. All that is known is that he is one who holds a lot of sway in Kirkwall and will soon become one of the most important people in history. It will be up to players to fill in the blanks.
Players will be filling in these blanks over the course of ten years, giving the story an epic feeling. It will also be told in a completely different way from what we saw in Origins. In a video interview with the Dragon Age 2 team, they discuss the narration style, which they call frame narration. This style consists of characters discussing your story in the past tense and, as the story progresses, these narrators react to the decisions you are making. This will give an interesting and historic feel to the game. It will give you the feeling that you are playing out this epic story from the past and you will feel the gratification of seeing your decisions shape that story. Another interesting feature about this type of narrative is that the consequences of your actions will become apparent much more quickly than in BioWares previous titles. Instead of playing through and having the game give you an overview of your decisions and their consequences at the end, you will start to see your actions shape the world as you are still playing the game.
In the story of Dragon Age 2, Hawke is human, and as a result, players will not be able to select which race to play as. However, this is pretty much the only change to character customization. Class and gender are still customizable. BioWare is also making changes to the classes. Veterans of Origins may remember that there were a handful of similarities between some of the classes. Warriors and rogues, for example, had some similar abilities that limited the differences between the two classes, which made multiple playthroughs less unique. The team at BioWare is determined to change this in Dragon Age 2. They are hard at work, making sure that each class has a unique and independent role, which I think will more than make up for the loss of being able to select your race. Aside from the changes being made to customization, it has also been revealed that Hawke will be a voiced character. This should add a new dimension to the character that we missed out on in Origins.
The gameplay of Dragon Age 2 is also receiving a large makeover. Where Origins was designed for the PC and then converted to the console, DA 2 will be uniquely designed for each platform. This will make the game more reactive to commands, as well as give the action a more natural feel. There is also going to be a larger emphasis on the action and combat of the game. The BioWare team wants you to think like a general and fight like a Spartan. Basically, this is saying that while you will be looking at the overall combat from a tactical perspective, you will also be right there in the thick of the fight. BioWare has always been known for their legendary storytelling in games, while the action is generally a little slower and more tactical. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see the results of this focus on making the combat as epic as the story that goes with it.
As previously stated, the story of DA 2 is going to be covering a much larger area of the map of Thedas. This will give players a look into the different cultures and races that were only mentioned in passing in Origins. The Qunari, for example, remained a mystery in Origins, despite being able to join forces with one of their race. Sten, the Qunari who joins you, never talked much about his culture or his people, leaving them in a shadow of mystery. Now, this shadow promises to be lifted, at least partially. While the role the powerful race will play in Dragon Age 2 remains unknown, the art department at BioWare has been hard at work to give them a distinct, evolved look from what we saw in Sten.
So far, the art and screenshots released by the Dragon Age team have a great look. The character models look incredible. The lines are smooth and extremely detailed. If this carries through to the final product, Dragon Age 2 promises to be one of the best looking games BioWare has produced to date.
Overall, Dragon Age 2 looks to be another true gem from BioWare. They have worked hard to take what players loved from Origins and improved upon them to make this a truly epic sequel. If you didnt play Origins, you dont have to worry. The game has been designed so that you will be able to jump into the story as a fresh fan of the series. Thats not to say that there will not be any carryover for veterans. BioWare has hinted that there will be something in store for people who played the first game, but the details remain unknown. Knowing their dedication to their fans, however, we can rest assured that we will not be disappointed. This game shows promise on all fronts, so if you were a fan of Origins, or are a fan of fantasy RPGs in general, Dragon Age 2 is absolutely going to be worth picking up.
CCC Freelance Writer