Thursday, 24 February 2011

Dragon Age II (Demo) (PC)

I never really considered putting contemporary games on this blog, but I thought I'd make an exception this once for Dragon Age 2. Mostly because people keep telling me to do it.

Click the pics for a closer look.

You can choose any character you want as long as it's Hawke, which is a bit of a shame because my favourite part of Dragon Age: Origins was playing through all the origins. Though now that I think about it, I have no idea what Dragon Age is like after the origin chapters because I kept getting bored and quitting. Whatever, I decide to go with Male Warrior Hawke.

It seems like the whole story is going to be told in flashback by this dwarf from inside this weird black void. This woman is determined to find out where the Champion is, and it seems she'll need his entire backstory to find him.

Our story starts here, on the barren empty miserable lifeless plains of... uh, it was somewhere near a town in the first game. Anyway, our legendary Champion and his sister are facing off against a seemingly never ending horde of Darkspawn. Yes that's really what they're called.

Okay, it seems I can use the keys or the mouse to control Hawke, but it's hard to get a handle on either of them when I'm being constantly bothered by waves of not-orcs.

Dialogue has been switched to a very Mass Effect (or perhaps Alpha Protocol) like system, with the character reading out lines based on the choices you select. Each choice has an icon indicating whether the response is going to be diplomatic, joking, no nonsense etc. I think it's a nice change, but then I'm just happy to hear the protagonist talk.

'Experiment with my other abilities'? That'd be cool but I'm busy being swarmed by orc-things! I haven't got time to read the text for each icon, so I stick to the regular attack.

Damn, first boss already? But I don't know what anything does!

Oh, duh... I forgot you can control the game while it's paused. Now I can spend a few minutes familiarising myself with the techniques presently available. Hmm, I believe 'whirlwind' could be appropriate for this situation. 

Yeah, that did the job. I'm playing on 'medium' graphics by the way, as the game is holding the higher settings hostage until I buy a better graphics card.

This damn ogre is taking forever to kill. My pitiful attacks are barely eroding his health bar. 

Why! Won't! You! DIE?! Ah, yeah that did it. Unfortunately the orclikes are still swarming in and the situation looks grim.

But then... a dragon! Back in the framing story the woman carrying out the interrogation calls bullshit. These sorts of shenanigans only happen in rpg stories, nothing this absurd could ever happen in real life. She demands the truth, so the dwarf gives in and tells the real story of what happened in that fight scene.

Oh wow, I get to customise my Hawke now? I was starting to think I'd be stuck with the default guy for the whole game. Wait, 'Appearance modification is disabled'? Huh? No idea why they left that out of the demo.

And now we're back in the boring wastes, with Hawke looking a little less impressive than his legend suggested. He can do a pretty awesome impression of Jeremy Davies though. We're travelling with the whole family this time, refugees after a darkspawn attack destroyed our town, trying to get to anywhere safer.

What? I tried looting a corpse and got this message. They won't even let me have an inventory? I decided to switch to weapon and shield just to try something new.

They've been generous enough to give me a character screen at least. And a very nice one it is too. It's always good to see damage per second listed in the stats.

Switching to first person view... would be nice if it was possible. Hah, that poor guy seems to have Hawke's sword sticking in his shoulder.

We continue along the linear path, fighting more darkspawn as they appear.

Along the way we seem to get a cutscene every five steps. Like this one! We've met up with some nice people who seem to hate mages. Which is a bit awkward seeing as my sister is one.

The graphics in this remind me a bit of the movie 300. Lots of cool, flashy action, in front of featureless empty backgrounds.

Hey it's the ogre fight again! They've made me repeat the intro section all over again, except it's harder this time as the real Hawke doesn't have a bar full of abilities that make everything explode. Also all my friends are all KO'd and I keep getting slapped across the level.

Yes! I kill the boss. Again. But now I'm skipping ahead to Kirkwall? I hope the full game has something in between because that's a pretty jarring jump. These animated cutscenes are nicely done though.

Kirkwall reminds me of Neverwinter Nights for some reason. It seems that the demo is skipping out most of the 'rpg' bits of the game and focusing on showing off the combat instead. All fighting and no exploring (or loot) makes Hawke a sad Champion.

I've only just met this character, but I think she'll make a good addition to the team. I like the way she cuts cutscenes short by throwing knives at people.

That's how I like my magic attacks to look! Each spell has a separate cooldown, so you're encouraged to use your whole repertoire rather than spam your favourite move over and over.

It's nice when you don't have to worry about friendly fire. I don't know how it's raining arrows indoors, but I'm not complaining.

One last pointless choice and that's it, the demo is over. Oh well.

I've got to admit... this game has damn good sound. The music and the sound effects are all great, and male and female Hawke seem to have equally good voices. I am definitely impressed. But anyway, next game!

Actually I'll just listen to the menu music a bit more first...

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