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My impression of Dragon Age 2

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After finishing the PC version of Dragon Age 2 using a female mage Hawke, I have to give my opinion of what I thought about the game.

Story: There wasn't a sense of what I was doing in the game leading to the ultimate actions that the Arishok and Qunari took at the end of Act II or the mages and templars in Act III. It felt like nothing more than a bunch of disjointed and disconnected side quests that I was participating in, and it's only when the closing quests kick in does the story itself advance. One of the Let's Players on YouTube was disappointed in that the Mage ending was a bit too general and simply concluded the fates of all the surviving party members as just vanishing into the hills and leaving the Champion's side, except for the companion that his Hawke had romanced.

Characters: I thought Varric and Isabela were the best characters in the game, as far as player companions go personality-wise. Anders took a serious dramatic hit that changed him into "the man that destroyed the Chantry". For non-player characters, Meredith takes special mention for being the most embarrassingly bad villain, both in appearance and in her final battle actions. Hawke does comment about her appearance, but I would have expected him/her to call her "Little Red Riding Hood all grown up with a big sword".

Gameplay: Mostly it's about side quests and companion quests and quests that have some connection to the main plot of the story. The combat seems to overwhelm you by throwing so many enemies at you, which on the one hand gives you more potential loot to collect and on the other hand makes the game feel more hack-and-slash than RPG, particularly during the time before one of the console version's patches where the toggle-able auto-attack feature was mistakenly left out.

Controls: Given the fast pace of this game, it's no wonder that the console version's controls are more suited to playing this game than the keyboard and mouse controls of the computer version. Watching somebody's battle with Meredith as mage Hawke using the console version, they were whipping out moves on her and her tools of destruction faster than anyone could do so with a keyboard and mouse. I tried accomplishing the same thing with my mage Hawke on the computer version, even by using a gamepad controller script and a wireless keyboard, and it felt less satisfying. Despite this, I'm glad they put the potions directly in the hotbar for easy access instead of having to manually drag them on there as in Origins and Awakening. Also the console version lets you direct your character to a spot where he/she should go, a feature that I wish was in the console version of Origins and Awakening.

Design: The constant recycling of maps for caves, house interiors, and underground passageways made this game feel like an action movie done with a low budget, reusing sets and locations by creatively redressing them, only here they sometimes don't bother trying to redress the locations so you wouldn't notice.

Voice Acting: For the most part the voice acting was great and very precisioned given the multiple variations of lines the characters have to say depending on which gender Hawke you are and which actions you have chosen. However, the male Hawke sounds like he's trying to channel Brian Blessed's hammy delivery when doing his in-combat shouts, and female Hawke tries and fails to sound like a British/Ferelden version of Lucy Lawless' Xena the Warrior Princess character. The dialogue wheel could use some more work where you wouldn't have to guess what Hawke is going to say before he/she says it.

Music: Not bad, and I also like the end credits song by Florence and the Machine, which seems a bit appropo given that the whole thing is framed around the story of the Champion and whether the teller of that story is telling the truth or just giving his own version of it.

Technical Problems: I have noticed a few, including some game freezes and apparently some times with the computer version where resuming a game only gives me a never-ending load screen that required me to exit the game and reboot my computer.

Overall: It feels like the game could use more work on it, and had it been delayed until near the end of 2011, there may have been something that would make the game feel as epic as people have been led to believe it would be. As it is, it makes Origins feel like Lord Of The Rings while this comes across as a series of Hercules and Xena episodes at their cheesiest.

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