So the demo for Dragon Age 2 was released last week and although I’ve now played it through several times at least, I have waited a little while to make this post. Why, you ask? I can respond as simply as saying the Dragon Age 2 demo left me with a bitter taste in the mouth my first play-through.
I’ll just rattle off, point by point.
Overall, the character models seem to be improved over Dragon Age 2, they are certainly more visually aesthetic. This is all good and well but there are several issues with this. First off – pretty much every woman I encountered in the demo seemed to have a D sized bust or there abouts. And as much I love that, I have to ask why? Is it to appeal to the male populace as a whole or something else? I don’t rightly know. My second concern from the demo with regards to this point is Flemeth. The Demo starts as the Hawke family is fleeing Lothering’s destruction. That means that this part at least is taking place days after your Grey Warden met Flemeth in the Korcari Wilds. Yet, my friends, she looks vastly different. Gone are the wrinkles, Flemeth is lithe and almost warrior like, her hair is not that of a ragged lady, but pulled up, supported with what almost looks like Qunari horns.
Continuity is the word I am looking for here.
While this technically falls under character models, I felt the need to talk about this more in depth. In Dragon Age: Origins, the Darkspawn were the main enemy, the menace threatening the land. As such, they looked particularly evil and menacing. But in our escape from Lothering, the Darkspawn look anything but. Hurlocks are weak, pale and look like they are skeletor replicas in some respects. In a level where my family is running for it’s life, I didn’t get that feeling at all. Even when the mighty Darkspawn ogre appeared and disposed of one of my beloved siblings, I was still relatively speaking, unimpressed. Because even Mr Ogre had a bit of a face lift so to speak. His facial features were more pale and less intimidating as well. There was also a distinct lack of Genlocks if memory serves correctly.
Now you might say, “But Cypher, the darkspawn aren’t the main enemy and that’s why Bioware haven’t made them menacing”. And in that respect you’d be right. The Darkspawn, as far as we know, are not going to be the main threat (In all likely hood, the Qunari are going to be or there abouts). But remember, this is a level where your family is running for their lives from a blight. So I have to sight A) feeling and B) continuity as reasons why this disappointed me.
Now I’m also a fan of Bioware’s Mass Effect franchise and the dialog wheel works just well for it. And I quite liked the dialog from Dragon Age: Origins. But Bioware have gone with mainstream fan service with this outing, bringing a similar dialog wheel that, while we didn’t get a whole lot of experience with it, seems very much like the one present in Mass Effect 2. With this, our male or female Hawke gets voiced. So it’s alright, right? Well, for me, it will be a case of wait and see how this plays out in the full version.
This is probably the biggest talking point about the Dragon Age 2 demo. Let’s start with what Dragon Age 2 combat is in the demo; Fast paced, flashy and it empowers the player utilising over-powered techniques. But what else? It’s a button mashing, spam fest. If you’re an RPG veteran like myself, this is a massive turn off. I personally enjoyed the more strategic combat of Origins (which was a bit of a throw back to KOTOR for example) and I just don’t find the prospect of pressing the A button a gazillion times in combat (with the X, Y and B thrown in for abilities) all too appealing. I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy it or not see it as a problem though. The skills and skill trees were a tad disappointing also but time will tell as we can’t really get a full grasp of this until the full game hits store shelves.
It’s what we all play these sorts of games for right? I’m pretty sure I heard someone say no there, but I’ll forgive you. Again, it’s one of those things that’s hard to grok due it being a demo but from what we know so far in the grand scheme of things, as well as what has been presented, it seems like Dragon Age 2 is not going to disappoint in this department.
My impressions from this demo seem to some up how I feel about the gaming industry right now. Dragon Age 2 is for me, a move away from RPG and into the Action Adventure realm, something a lot of big developers are doing of late (Fable 3, anyone?). As a big RPG fan it saddens me but if we’re becoming a minority in the grand scheme of things then there isn’t a whole lot we can do other than hope other developers continue to produce RPGs. Much of my initial rage and disappointment originating from having played the demo has dissipated and we have to consider this demo was produced months ago and things may have been changed since then, but I feel an element of concern for the full release. Time will tell.