This is long overdue. I’ve been sitting on it for about 3 months now for no good reason even though I’ve been done with both Dragon Age and Dragon Age 2 that long. I guess you can chalk it up to laziness or being sidetracked by other things.
Dragon Age: Origins
I started playing this earlier this year, but neglected to finish it for a bit when Mass Effect 3 came out. I did manage to finish it while I was playing Mass Effect 3, though. It was my “go to” game when I needed a break from aliens and thinking about reaper stuff.
I think Mass Effect has ruined me a bit since now I expect all of Bioware’s games to be voiced, which is funny considering I have played and enjoyed KOTOR, KOTOR II, and Jade Empire--none of which are voiced. Mass Effect was the first Bioware game that I’ve felt really emotionally invested in. That’s not to say that I don’t have a ton of feelings about other games including this one. Mass Effect just holds a bigger piece of my heart than the rest of them, though.
However, I did enjoy Dragon Age for the most part. Fantasy games can be sort of hit or miss with me, so I wasn't sure how long this was going to hold my interest. I don't have anything against fantasy. I'm just more of a sci-fi, cyberpunk, urban fantasy person.
I was not a fan of the combat system they had in place. it became a bit of a pain to try to target with my mage when Alistair kept blocking my line of sight. I also don’t like spending a lot of time positioning characters so that we get our tactics just right. It made me feel clumsy and slow while playing, a feeling that I have even now playing through with my rogue. However, none of that is terrible enough to make quit playing, though. It’s not the worst system I’ve ever had to play with BY FAR.
I think part of the reason I didn’t give it up is because I loved the story. Dragon Age is an immersive, sprawling tale that really could keep the player drawn into it. It was more like reading a novel you dictated more than just some game you’re playing. And I think that’s something that Bioware is good at--getting the player wholly involved in the story of these characters, making it more than just a game for many people.
Dragon Age 2
This should be known as the game that vaguely has something to do with the first one, but not really. Despite the fact that you can import in a save, it doesn’t really have that much of an impact on gameplay in DA2 (at least not in my case). There is such a disconnect here that I feel you could play this game without playing the first game. That’s unusual for me to say because I am the type of gamer that has to play the first game before going on to any of the sequels.
I really loved the new game mechanics, though. I tend to prefer action oriented, on-the-spur gaming rather than micromanaging every single aspect. This allowed me to do that a little more than in the last game where it seemed like I was pausing every 10 seconds to make sure that my group had some sort of tactics going on in order not to end up dead.
One thing that sort of got on my nerves with Dragon Age: Origins was all the dialogue choices. I didn’t necessarily think Dragon Age 2 needed to go the way of the dialogue wheel (which tends to label “good” and “bad” choices a la Mass Effect style and take some legitimacy away from your choices), but I did think that some of the dialogue choices were excessive in DAO. I mean, honestly, how many ways do you really need to say “no”?
The story in this one felt... rushed. Even though it spans over 10 years, it really was a short game. While I think this is a fun game in its own right, I’m disappointed in it because it seemed unbalanced and lacking in focus.
I wasn't too thrilled with not being able to equip my companions as I saw fit. As I mentioned before, I don’t care for micromanaging, but I do like to give my companions something awesome every now and again that I think will be useful in battle.
Find armor that you’d like Aveline to wear? Silly, you can’t change your companions gear. You get a lot of equipment in this game. However, your companions are pretty much limited to some weapons and accessories. Their armor can change, but mostly by finding pieces that are specifically for them.
So, that means I spent a lot of time loaded down and selling crap that nobody could use--including my character.
I was under the impression that this was going to continue to be about the Darkspawn threat that I thought was still a threat even though my hero killed the Archdemon. However, instead of that continuing theme that defined Dragon Age: Origins and followed me into Awakenings, I’m faced with this civil war that is brewing between templars and mages that I don’t really care about because the unbalanced storytelling really didn’t give me a chance to connect and care about their problems.
So, we’re presented with another major theme. Something I’ve noticed with Bioware games, as much as I hate to say this, is that if there are too many major themes something is going to be nixed and ignored as if it never existed. And it seems like it’s about to be the Darkspawn bits. Not that it won’t be interesting to see what happens between the mages and the templars. I just really don’t care and would rather be finding out what the wardens are on a super secret mission for and where is Morrigan and the OLD GOD baby. However, I will reserve judgement until I actually see Dragon Age 3.
I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t play as the other races in this one. To me, one of the things that I associate with a fantasy game is the ability to play as other races in the game. And this game, while certainly giving me a few good choices, didn’t seem to have many major choices that the first game had (or maybe not enough major choices that I cared about).
This was an okay game. Fun for what it’s worth, but not as great as it could’ve been (and was expecting).