Hello internet, I am Drew, it's Febuary 25th, 2011 and I have a blog.
I've always been bad at introductions, so allow me to skip a little bit ahead to whatever it is I feel like talking about. Yep, this is indeed my first blog on Dtoid and I'm very happy to be getting into it after reading and following the site for years now. I was long encouraged by friends and family to start writing about all my intrests in geekitude, so here goes.
Today, I'd love to express my opinion on the recently released demo of Dragon Age 2.(Like I said, bad with intros.)I know what you're thinking, what do you care of some opinion's teen on a popular demo for popular game that was released over a few days ago? Well, you clicked the link, so you might as well finish the job. I've been hotly anticipating this game, as a fan of the original and someone who usually chomps up anything labelled with Bioware. With American Role playing games, I'm really in for the Story, the choices, the dialouge as pictured below, and the character creation. You know, the classic day dreamer's concept of "being someone I could never be."
The gameplay could either prove to be an added bonus, or a hinderance to my enjoyment. The recent Mass Effect 2, for example, had a big bonus in gameplay. As someone who entered the gaming scene in action-shooters, discluding my nostalgic childhood with platforming games, I felt right at home in the over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder third person camera. In Dragon Age Origins, it tended to be a bit of a chore, to carry me along to the next chunk of dialouge and choices. Infact, a lot of the post-action and pre-action moves WERE a chore, like looting enemies, checking traps, setting traps, and so on.... It was fun making stradegies, levelling up characters, creating equipment, the USUAL RPG stuff, but the actual in-game experience was nothing short of tasteless. Perhaps I had been playing the game wrong, without the right tactic or stradegic approach in a tactic heavy game. I can't say I feel that way when plenty of the 'tactics' proved to be useless compared to simple approaches.
Of all the things I could say about the DA2 demo in the start of this little essay, is that it fixes this problem with flying colors, something you've probably heard from all the press releases and early impressions. Even Mages and Archer-Rouges, though not in 'the center of the action' as was advertised, pull off flashy manuvers at the tap of a button. Speaking of which, button-mashing the A button is now a part of this game, rather than pressing it once to continuously attack an enemy. This will sour some of your tastes, but for simple minded me, it actually put me a lot more into the action, if a little repeditive or tiring at times.
As well as normal attacks are what I find to be vastly improved special commands. They're not just more flashy as usual, hence a move where a Rouge can literally roundhouse an explosive jug of liquid into the face of the enemy(which I personally find to be hilariously ridiculous), they're also much more useful. In the original game I found several abilities useless or providing the same effects, especially a large amount of the status inflictions a Mage could use. Once again this could probably just be me playing the game wrong, but in my experience I never used half of my arsenal of attacks. Now, each move has a more specific result, and they're pretty much ALL effective in the right situation. With quicker recharge times and easier use of mana/stamina as well, they are much more quickly there for you to use.
This may all sound like it presents more repedetiveness, but with much more effective, different moves and more chances to use them, you can actually get into a lot more tactics than before. At least, that was my experience. Archers can be particularly stradegic with moves like 'Hall of Arrows,' that, as the name reccomends, rains down an entire hall of arrows on a large group of enemies. Combine this with any of a Warrior's knock-down shockwaves or a Mage's area of effect attacks, you can have deadly combos.
Enough about all that, what about the actual demo? You'll play as the main protagonist, Hawke, on an introductory mission as they escape their home town, and a bit of an extra mission to introduce two of your first companions, Isabela and Varric. You'll chomp through waves of enemies, and if this demo is any representation of the actual game, I feel as though they have the pacing and amount of enemies down. Like I said, it was a chore at times to fight in DA:O, especially with the large dungeons and sprawling amounts of enemies. With the more immersive combat and the perfect balance of targets, there is a lot less repedetiveness. Though fighting the same Hurlock monster over and over does get boring, I'd appreciate some variety in the enemy designs.
During the demo you aren't able to customize Hawke's appearance or even their inventory, which is little racking for me, the guy who's in it for the story and role-playing. It'd be fun to mess with the character creation system as a part of the demo, especially when in pretty much any recent bioware game where you can alter your face, you'll look different in-game than you will in the C. Creation menus. Not only that but you recieve quite a lot of equipment you'd think you should be able to equip and mess around with, especially when you only have one chance to switch weapon styles in the demo, save for Mages who are still stuck with staffs and whatnot.
You'll also be introduced to some of your squadmates for the duration of the fullgame, such as your sister Bethany and your brother Carver, who are interchangable in the story depending on Hawke's class. Personally I find Beth adorable and Carver kind of a lughead, so I have yet to play the Mage route where Beth gets her brain knocked out by an ogre in place of Carver. There is Varric, an archer Dwarf, and Isabela, a rouge swashbuckler, as well, but you don't actually see very much of them in the second part of the demo, save for Varric's intro in the cutscenes. They seem like fun enough characters, though what bugs me about Varric is that it seems like his VA is trying very hard to have a cool, sexy voice. I suppose it is kind of cool and sexy, but not as award winningly drenched in cool, like what he seems to be going for.
Here's something that bugs me though; We were promised a much more vast array of emotional options in the dialouge choices, such as 'sarcastic' or 'flirty,' but, at least in the areas covered in the demo, all you really have is the stereotypical 'paragon' good guy options, the 'renegade' bad guy options, and the default 'sarcastic' options, which isn't as vast as I was hoping and also kind of adds to my fear that this game will be what Mass Effect 2 was to Mass Effect 1. Meaning, trying too hard to be edgy, cool, and blowing up the title into a big name franchise. We all remember what Bioware once said regarding ME2, that they were trying to make it like a PG-13 movie, with action and adventure and complete lack of homosexuality, and what not. DA2 nails the latter at the least, with any gender of Hawke being able to flirt up with Isabela in the demo, but I'm no less worried that Dragon Age will turn from a very innovate, retro and fun, if a bit generic, adventure into Medieval fantasy, and into a SUPER DARK and EDGY, SEXY ACTION romp.
In conclusion, being bad at introductions makes you bad at conclusions as well. I really enjoyed the DA2 demo, I loved playing it through multiple times and picking it apart. But at the same time I wasn't so happy we couldn't chum around and pre-create our characters before the actual game comes out, like a 'practice' round at building a pretty face, and I was a bit disapointed with some of the things that were promised. As rebels always say, don't believe the hype.... But hey, Dragon Age 2 has damn good hype.
That's all for now internet. I'm Drew, and I have a blog.
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