Friday, February 25, 2011

First Thoughts - Dragon Age: Origins 2

Dragon Age: Origins is one of my favorite Next Gen titles. It's an action RPG where you create your character and quest to save the kingdom from the horde of Darkspawn commanded by the Archdemon. Along the way you gain companions, help cities and towns with their own problems, while ever-gaining support for your own cause. Like other RPG titles made by BioWare, you have multiple choices within your quests and subquests, making the overall story open to chance. Apart from your quest to kill the archdemon, it may not turn out the same each time you play. With various rewards (ie. trophies or achievements, and in-game rewards) it encourages multiple play-throughs - each time with a different character or motivation. I greatly enjoyed it, and have yet to unlock all of its mysteries.
Last year it was announced that a sequel was to be released. My eyes widened at the prospects. However, at first I was turned off, because it seemed like you weren't able to make your own character. From the promos it seemed that you would play a "generic" character with their own story. So my hopes had dwindled. Until...
This past week, the demo was released for download on X-Box live and the PlayStation Network. I immediately jumped on the chance to download it and see for myself what was in store for me.
Right from the get-go, I knew two things: the art style was similar but different, and the music style was the same as before. So far, I was excited. Starting a new game, I was given six character choices. I could choose to play a male or female character, and whether they were a warrior, mage, or rogue. There was no choice for race. Already I'm liking this game less that the first.
The demo's opening cutscene began. The graphics have definitely improved from the previous game - still in the same style. The voice work, like before is promising. A dwarf is being questioned about someone called "The Champion." He is being forced to tell the tale. Immediately you are thrust into battle with darkspawn alongside your sister. The darkspawn look nothing like the ones from the previous game. They appear to be related to Skeletor from He-Man. Wave after wave of Darkspawn attack, finally a giant Ogre appears. Once he is defeated, you and your very attractive sister are surrounded when a dragon appears and swoops down.
The scene is interrupted by the interrogator spouting that the story is BS. Finally she gets the dwarf to tell the truth.
The real game begins, and you are given the opportunity to customize the character you've selected. However, in the Demo, you can't. The story takes place as the dwarf tells it, and is during the events of the previous game. You and your family are on the run from darkspawn.
Here you get a sense of the new controls. The focus is more on action this time around. Instead of selecting your move and it plays out, you have physical control of the attacks in real time. The "X" button is for attack, and you do with every press of the button. The other buttons, as before, are used for your special attacks and item use. Only items and attacks that require you to aim pauses the action. The menu screen is also different. This time it is a radial menu instead of a page/list format. When leveling up, you can select the skill tree to use. They are displayed almost like a DNA strands.
Everything seems geared to make combat easier and more fast-paced. Oh, one thing I forgot. Dialogue uses the analog stick to choose your choice in a radial menu, and the player character is fully voiced.! Finally a fully voiced player character in an RPG! This includes dialogue as well as the cutscenes.
Unfortuanately, I cannot say more. While I was playing the power went out. I have yet to try again. But I can't wait to play the full game when its released.

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