Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another One Under the Belt

My Hawke
(After a trip to the Black Emporium)

 Finished Dragon Age II last night. My first reaction upon completing the game?

When does III hit the shelves?

So, um, yeah, I liked it.

Real quick, my overall impressions were these:

Getting the negative out of the way first, I really feel like the relationships with the companion characters did not get a chance to be as fully developed in this game as in the first, and I felt the loss. I am sure it is the trade-off for having the player's character fully voiced, but it would have been nice to get to have more chances to actually get to know the rest of my party. As this was set up, with most of the characters it felt more like we were a group of people who occasionally work together rather than friends who have been to hell and back together numerous times.

That being said, the characters were all pretty cool, though a few of them were a little too stuck in their ways for my taste (this is where I would have liked more opportunities for conversations, to have a chance to sway them more to my side). I felt like parts of certain characters' stories were just out of my control and I could either play along with them and hopefully gain their friendship, or I could refuse to help them and lose out on a quest and the XP.

Still, I would totally invite Varric, Isabela, and Merril to my next party, were they real people.

I pre-ordered this game super early so that I could get the free upgrade to the signature edition, and I am very glad I did. Any other pre-order bonus content that was offered for the game was available in this edition, including the Black Emporium. The Black Emporium is an extra store with special items and also includes the Mirror of Transformation. This mirror is super awesome. Basically, when you start the game, you customize your character's appearance, but I know I can't be the only one who has done this and then halfway through the game gotten totally sick of looking at the silly hair or the horrible makeup choice I made. With the Mirror of Transformation, you can recustomize your character's appearance without messing up the game. Yay! I just tweaked Hawke's hair and makeup, because I feel that after six or seven years, she would not be wearing the same hairstyle. I realize I am a total girl. Unfortunately, I didn't get to find this until right at the end of the game, because my silly self forgot to actually install the bonus content until I was almost done playing. I was getting so mad that the Emporium and my extra companion character (The Exiled Prince, who is available as DLC but included in the signature edition as well) hadn't shown up yet. Sigh. Oh well, next play-through will be much more fun. Also, I might try harder to keep Sebastian on my side at the end, though when I alienated him this time, it was kind of like, "Dude, I've seriously only been playing with you for an hour, I really don't care if you want to have a pissy fit right now. Ba-bye." So, yeah.

I am not entirely sure how I felt about the story in this one, but I think that is more because it basically puts you between a rock and a hard place and says "choose." Either way you choose, you lose party members/friends/allies. Gah, I can't even imagine playing this through as a mage (which isn't to say I'm not gonna try). Being a "neutral" rogue, I still don't think I could have played it through and done all of the quests without alienating people from both sides. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It is just that the right and wrong was nowhere near as clear cut in this game as it was in the first, and I have a feeling the story will stick with me for a while.

Now that I've completed the game, I feel like the narrative frame the story is set inside of was really just intended to set up the events for the next game though. It was kind of a cool conceit, but at the end, instead of finding out what happens to the characters, you just know that two people are still hanging out together, Varric is still alive (since he's the one telling the story), and no one has seen the Champion in a while, though the Templars are looking for him/her now. We kind of find out why the Templars are looking, sure, but then the game ends. Without that framework, it would have ended in kind of a blaze of glory (or gore) and you could have gotten your standard little "this is what happened next" blurb. But as it stands it really does feel something like an unfinished story.

But it is a story. This entire world, whether we get to see all of it in the games or not, has been thought out and fully realized by the writers. What you see comes completely to life on the screen, and the hints dropped about the places we don't visit made me really wish we could get the chance to do so.

Though I do have to say that if what I am reading into the ending is correct, the next game is gonna be frakking epic and will (hopefully) port over your Hawke from DAII and possibly your character from the first game as well (though I suspect you would play as Hawke, I could be wrong there).

So, yay! Done! Now I am gonna take a little break from video games for a while and do some reading, since I can do that outside and enjoy this gorgeous weather at the same time.


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