keskiviikko 5. lokakuuta 2011

REVIEW - Dragon Age II (2011)

RELEASED: March 2011
PUBLISHER(S): Electronic Arts

Recent years have been kind to the Western RPG, even if we're disregarding the obvious impact of certain MMO's. Several single-player masterpieces have emerged, most of which have been brought to us by the Canadian BioWare. Mass Effect is the most widely acclaimed and known franchise to wear the BioWare brand, but many old-school role-players consider 2009's multi-million seller Dragon Age: Origins the most important BioWare game to date due to its epic, traditional, yet very original, medieval fantasy story, and vintage gameplay, which hadn't been so neatly bundled in one single game in years. A full-length sequel to the game was announced in the summer of 2010, and it was released in a somewhat record breaking time of eight months into its announcement. The game drew harsh criticism long before the final product was available - some hand-picked reasons being that it was no longer a real RPG, it was too close to Mass Effect (it was even dubbed Dragon Effect by some journalists and fans), and having a Dragon Age game without or with very little darkspawn in it was like bread without butter. Having recently fallen in love with Mass Effect and considering the fact that I absolutely hate purists and their way of thinking, I headed into Dragon Age II without a shadow of a doubt that it would be a great game. Well, it's obvious that some central aspects of the game were way too rushed, and it is perhaps the worst BioWare game I've played thus far... which isn't much of an insult. Dragon Age II is still a great game that I am proud to have in my collection. Plus, the simplified combat and limited character customization aside, it is still very much of a role-playing game, in which each one of your decisions determines your each step towards becoming no less than the most important person in all of Thedas.

Kirkwall is not the galaxy

Nicholas Boulton : Hawke (Male)
Jo Wyatt : Hawke (Female)
Adam Howden : Anders
Joanna Roth : Aveline Vallen
Rebekah Staton : Bethany Hawke
Nico Lennon : Carver Hawke
Gideon Emery : Fenris / Paxley / Temmerin / Liam / Tethras Garen
Victoria Kruger : Isabela
Eve Myles : Merrill
Brian Bloom : Varric Tethras

During the fifth Blight, Hawke and his family evacuated from the crumbling Lothering, fled Ferelden and travelled across the Waking Sea to seek refuge in the city of Kirkwall. Within a decade, Hawke became known as the legendary Champion of Kirkwall, the single most influential person in all of Thedas. A rough-edged Seeker of the Chantry captures a dwarf named Varric, who she knows to have been close to Hawke, and forces him to recount Hawke's incredible rags-to-riches tale in detail, hoping to find the answers she needs to save the Chantry from falling apart.

Dragon Age: Origins - in retrospective. My occasional round trip in Neverwinter Nights aside, Dragon Age: Origins was the game that brought me into the wonderful world of BioWare. It was a lacking game, a little bit rough around the far edges - but when it was first released and I saw it through for the first time, it felt amazing. It all but swept my long-time favourite RPG franchise - Final Fantasy - right off the map. Whereas Final Fantasy XIII was a failure in nearly every possible way, this Canadian fantasy story had me in a vise for months and totally changed my perspective on great role-playing. So yeah, when I heard a sequel was in the works, I was pissing myself out of excitement. I thought of all the minor things Dragon Age: Origins lacked, and how they would surely be taken note of in the development of the sequel. My excitement for the game toned down a little when I heard it would run on a modified Mass Effect engine - I had heard a lot of great things about Mass Effect, but I had never played the game and thought that it was all hype. Well, then I played and finished Mass Effect, and I thought it was a stunning game. Then I played and finished Mass Effect 2, which turned out one of the best games I've ever played. At this stage, Dragon Age II became a must-have.

Potential sisters Hawke.
A lot of people were turned off by the mere idea of receiving a "Dragon Effect" - I, on the other hand, couldn't wait to see how a combination of Mass Effect and Dragon Age would work. My expectations for the game were sky high. I admit that they were a little too high - Mass Effect 2 set a standard. If the same guys were working on a game of such epic proportions as Mass Effect 3, and a quick sequel to Dragon Age: Origins at the same time, it should've been obvious that the latter game would not stand up to their favourite child by any means. At times it feels like the ultimate reason behind Dragon Age II is to prove that even with Mass Effect 3 in the kettle, Dragon Age fans haven't been forgotten - they just need to wait for a fully satisfying sequel a bit longer. I love some certain aspects of the gameplay, and I think the bits ripped off Mass Effect work like a charm in this environment - but there are many substantial flaws in Dragon Age II, and I hope to be able to cover all of them. I hope to be able to cover the shiny spots, too - there are lots of 'em.

What was absolutely clear to me before I started writing this review - hell, even before I had played the game - was that this wasn't going to be a brief commentary. We're dealing with a sequel to a title that, despite all of its errors as a console game, ate up well over a year of my (no-)life before I laid it to rest - and only after there was nothing I hadn't done in it. The story was just so immersive and addictive, and seeing the game through twice, as two completely different characters, and making completely opposite decisions in each possible turn, and actually getting completely opposite results out of these moments of reflection, were things I had never quite experienced before... well, except in Fallout 3, but Dragon Age: Origins had six different, not to mention PLAYABLE - no offense to Mass Effect - background stories to choose from, which instantly made it that much more of a customizable experience.

Well, one of the things that will surely turn some people off right off the bat is that in Dragon Age II, you play as a man or a woman simply named Hawke, or as some call him/her, the "Medieval Shepard". You can modify your Hawke by quite a damn lot - just as much as you can shape Shepard to your liking in Mass Effect. Hawke's spoken dialogue has been criticized a lot, which I still don't understand - personally, I like it much more than just choosing lengthy lines from a list and imagining your character's voice in your head. It's more natural, and since you're given so much choices for branching a conversation, it has no ill effect on making the character feel less like your own. After all, the dialogue system works even better than in Mass Effect - it's the exact same "dialogue wheel", but with even more visible indications to the nature and tone of each comment. Oh, and each comment counts. The game doesn't really throw a Paragon/Renegade system of any kind to your face, let's just say that the people in the game always remember your past actions, in better and worse... in EXTREME detail. The game is a notably more open-ended one than the first installment; uttering just one single key line can turn a great deal of your progress upside down for tens of hours to come. How many different storyline branches are there? I wouldn't even dare to try to count all the possibilities.

The battles look good, they feel good, but there's
rarely a challenge to them.
I would like to mention three things wrong about Dragon Age: Origins that BioWare paid close to no attention to while they were making Dragon Age II. One, the menu. It is simplified and better organized - all things essential are not cluttered up like they were in Origins. Maps, codexes and quests go to their own slots, you level up separately, and equipment is changed separately. That's all nice and dandy on paper, but changing equipment alone takes up almost as much struggle and needless cursing as using the Origins menu. The interface really hasn't changed that much - like I said, though, it's simplified. You can no longer assign different weapon sets to characters, and you can't change anyone except Hawke's protective equipment. One thing that makes the equipment menu a chore to browse through is the fact that there's so much equipment in this game, and even accessories with generic names such as "Belt" or "Ring" can be very efficient even towards the end of the game. You have to constantly check on each piece of equipment you pick up, no matter how weak it sounds. Most of the stuff you pick up is either completely useless junk, or class-specific armour that you annoyingly can't use. Your inventory limit will once again be exceeded several times an hour, by utterly disposable shite. Selling all this stuff isn't too lucrative, either. In turn, the equipment and weapons on sale have ridiculously steep prices you could never hope to afford. As today's trend goes, you won't have to buy much of anything to succeed in the game, though - you can find perfectly decent equipment from the field. Besides, Dragon Age II isn't a very hard game.

Two, the loading times. I mean, man. Since you'll be spending a lot of time fast travelling from one location to another, you're going to see those loading screens a whole lot more than you bargained for; I sincerely think they came up with the fancy loading animations just to convince players that the game is indeed loading, not freezing. I don't know what it is about this game that makes processing so damn long and hard, since the dungeons in the game are extremely small in size, and repetitive to boot. I'll get to this particular dungeon subject a bit more thoroughly later, as it is definitely Dragon Age II's greatest flaw. Three, glitches. Origins and Awakening's glitches are definitely severe enough to put Dragon Age II's to shame by numbers, but as technically flawless as this game might seem at first, it does have many persistent bugs, minor and major ones. The minor ones range from non-fatal, sometimes even amusing occurrences such as twitchy speech, to looping cutscenes and dialogues seen in Leliana's Song. The major ones range from utterly unwinnable quests to one of the final bosses falling halfway down a chasm while he's on his last legs, out of your range and therefore undefeatable until you swallow your anger and calmly reload the game to go for a B.L.N.T. (Better Luck Next Time).

Before really picking the game apart to reassemble it just as soon and give you my honest verdict on it, I'd like to delve into the characters and the quality of the story. These are things that do live up to the franchise name, better than great. Stylistically, Dragon Age II differs a whole lot from the first game; although there are darkspawn stragglers and a few dragons lurking about, as well as a whole horde of demons, most of the game's conflicts are purely political, and Hawke has a weird tendency to find himself in the middle of them all... yeah, just like Shepard, I know. But, these conflicts usually end up in some very violent conclusions - it might be hard to believe after what I just said, but Dragon Age II is much more violent than the first game. It's kind of disappointing that in the intro sequence, you can cut enemies in half with your sword, but you can't do that later on in the game; you simply strike enemies down. Still, there will be blood. Lots of it. And lots of cinematics to prove a further point.

Scanning the exact same stone walls for the
hundreth time.
Unlike Dragon Age: Origins which had a story arc that held up for about a year in in-game time, Dragon Age II's fabulous story spans nearly a decade, and it's divided into three acts in different points of time. It's very interesting to watch how the true story unfolds after the very cryptic beginning, how Hawke's actions influence people and their takes on him/her, and how his/her status changes through the years, from a lowly refugee to the guardian angel OR scourge of the city of Kirkwall. I'll go into how differently they handled relationships in this game a bit later, now it's time to focus on some of the people those professional and/or romantic relationships can be formed with. Suffice to say, you're going to meet a lot of familiar folk. How much a lot is, depends on whether or not you import your save file from Dragon Age: Origins, and whether or not you have a completed save file of the DLC to go with it. Although the feeling of continuity is not near the overwhelming thrill of importing the Mass Effect save file to Mass Effect 2, the events in your personal game of Origins and Awakening have a decent amount of impact on the events and occurrences in your personal game of Dragon Age II. There are some mistakes; for example, one mage supporter argues that "even the Hero of Ferelden had an apostate on his side when he was fighting the Archdemon", and I drove Morrigan away according to the save file. Another character confirms that the Hero of Ferelden is dead, which he wouldn't be if Morrigan had indeed been there with him. I'm not sure, but I think finishing Awakening using a Warden that died in Origins might mess up the imported plot's consistency.

As I was saying, you're going to meet a lot of familiar folk either way, some of which might even go as far as join your party. Some are minor characters from the past that were bound to be exploited further, some are very central guys and gals that had some downright unfinished dealings that you might or might have not taken note of. Some just stop by as brief cameos, primarily to make fanboys and -girls bleed their asses dry. Even I am tempted to replay the whole saga just to remember all details of what happened in the past, even if I have sworn to never touch the first retail again. Going through who's in the game and who's not when it comes to returning characters is not a very nice thing to do, so I'll just mention a few new ones. Hawke's companions are quite a crew. Aveline is one of the survivors of Ostagar and a very capable warrior; although I'm bothered by having a female for a default tank, I must admit she's invaluable. Varric is the best dwarf character, ever. He's been very well received, for his great performance and the many notable differences between him and the stereotypical dwarf character, which are mostly explained by him being born and raised somewhere else than Orzammar. Fenris is an elf, a former slave with a thick vein of lyrium etched into his skin, and some serious anger management issues, especially when it comes to his very vocal resentment towards mages. Despite consciously developing a shitstorm of a rivalry between him and my first Hawke, he's definitely my favourite new supporting character - by the way, he's voiced by Gideon Emery, who did Balthier in Final Fantasy XII. Yes, I'm sure I'm not in love with the guy's voice - he just happens to be cast as the best characters.

The graphics have definitely improved, but the game is still no Mass Effect when it comes to looks; now I truly think it is a conscious choice, after all over a year had passed from the original Xbox 360 release of Mass Effect 2, and even the first Mass Effect game released in 2007 generally looked better than this. The game is much more cinematic than the first one; the conversations are not nearly as mechanical and there are a whole lot more cutscenes. The design of certain characters has changed a bit, from some old acquaintances to darkspawn, and most notably, the whole Qunari tribe, who are now more distinguishable from humans with huge horns and black eyeballs to go with their ash-coloured skin and sheer size. I like what they did to the design, and I'm expecting great things from Dragon Age III - sometimes renovation isn't such a bad thing. Although both Hawkes are a bit monotonic in their performances, the voiceover work has also definitely improved across the board - many actors who were originally cast as the returning characters from Origins and Awakening have been replaced, and for once, I have no gripe with that. We have no big names here - just a whole cavalcade of British, American and Canadian voiceover staples, who do good for the most part. Inon Zur's soundtrack is as good, but just as ambient as always. No 30 Seconds to Mars this time around, although I think one certain revelation in the game is either a pun or a heartfelt tribute to the band, I'm not quite sure which. "I'm Not Calling You a Liar" by the British indie band Florence + The Machine (remixed by Inon Zur) plays in the end credits and fits the atmosphere quite OK.

I'm tired of stating something of the sort, but Dragon Age II begins exactly like Mass Effect 2. There's a lengthy cutscene, a playable intro sequence that really has no bearing on the game itself, and THEN you can create your character, as well as import your save file from Dragon Age: Origins if you want to - I certainly do. If you're having trouble remembering what has happened thus far in your personal plot of the Dragon Age saga, there's a list of the most important events for each of your different characters. The events in the DLC besides Awakening have no bearing on the plot, even though you can import the save from The Golems of Amgarrak or Witch Hunt. Having played and finished Awakening is extremely important; you will not get half of the references to earlier events without that feat under your belt. Sometimes it honestly feels like Awakening is more important to the whole of the Dragon Age storyline than Origins.

Big love for the Qunari, right here.
Although Hawke is inevitably a human, there are distinctive differences to the game depending on your class, gender and alignment. Importing a save file from the previous game also alters the dialogue by a decent sum, and there's plenty of free downloadable stuff for purchasers of a new retail copy of the game - Dragon Age II will most likely keep boggling your interest for the length of at least two different playthroughs. Its most severe flaw lies in the obviously rushed design of the world. The "dungeons" are mostly single rooms, the quests are often five minutes long at their most, and there really aren't too many different maps. The main plot has some variety in environmental design, but the sidequests are full of copy-pasted warehouses and short stretches of woods, with a different part of them blocked each time for make-believe variety. After 10 to 15 hours of gameplay, it starts to feel like we're playing a handheld sequel to Dragon Age: Origins; actually, the whole copy-paste scheme reminds me of Crisis Core's side missions. Not only that, but nearly the whole game's events take place in Kirkwall - one city. And here I thought Orzammar was a bore. In each act, every lil' explorer is forced to investigate every corner of Kirkwall again, since there's usually something new in the most unlikely of places, some treasure chests have new contents, and all merchants have restocked their variety of wares. Not just every corner of Kirkwall by day, but also every corner of Kirkwall by night - it's sold as a whole different setting, which it isn't. Just darker, a whole lot quieter with the exception of a few criminal gangs running amok, and there are some passages which, for some reason, are not even visible by day. BioWare wasted a lot of good energy to create the annoying day-night cycle when they could've just as easily invest in delivering us a game with more true variety. And yes, I do believe fans could've waited for a few more years.

You cannot talk to nearly everyone in this game, and all NPC's and companions that have half a meaning to their words are marked with a huge icon from a million digital miles away for you to take inevitable notice. Also, you cannot pick one lock in this game. Rogues with a high Cunning rating are good to have along as always, when it comes to combat and opening treasure chests, but the latter feature is really not that essential to your success since like I said, most of the stuff you find is utterly useless; looting really isn't what it used to be, which was one of the best damn qualities of Dragon Age: Origins. Once again, you can only upgrade your companions' armour, not change it, which limits the looting experience by quite a damn lot.

Now that I've gone over some of the really ugly spots of the game, it's time to take a break and go into some of the most polished features of the game. First, the relationships with the members of your party, both professional and romantic. Let's start by saying that even though you cannot talk to your companions just any time you wish - which is actually quite good since a conversation can no longer be triggered by accident - they have a lot to say to you, each and every one of them, in many points of the game, regardless if you keep them in your active party or not. Each companion has a home base somewhere in Kirkwall. When they have something on their mind, a new companion quest appears. If the companion is in your active party, all you need to do is go to their home base and turn to them for conversation. If (s)he's not, you will find them there all the same. Sometimes, they have new, true quests available. Most times, they just want to hear your opinions on their personal issues; of course, your opinions have a very hefty impact on you becoming either their friend or rival. If the criteria's on the mark, you will also gain access to flirty dialogue options, which trigger and/or boost your romantic relationships with the characters. The romantic relationships are way more intricate than in Dragon Age: Origins, where you could just bombard your love interest with gifts, then say "Nice shoes, wanna fuck?" and be done with it. Even having sex with him/her doesn't count as completing a romance. This is how it works: set your sights on a character, flirt with 'em to the point even others are starting to notice your interest, give 'em a couple of gifts, be good to 'em, have sex with 'em, tell 'em you love 'em, try not to kill 'em, and hope that in a few years, the person will still be standing by your side. If you play your cards right, they probably are. The romance angle is so much more of a true part of the gameplay experience than it was in Dragon Age: Origins, I love it. Just to get it out of my head, there are four companions you can start a romantic relationship with - and as always, they're not too picky about your gender. As a matter of fact, sometimes it feels like the game is downright prompting you to come out of the closet. They kind of overplayed and satirized the notorious gay angle of Origins, here, to the point of purposedly making the player feel bad for rejecting romantic offers from companions of the same gender.

Some have said the combat system is completely different from that of Dragon Age: Origins, which it is not. As a matter of fact, it's exactly the same. It just looks different. BioWare was well prepared for someone not liking the tweaked controls and somewhat different interface, so they included a whole lot of options for people grown too accustomed to the previous game. With just a few little adjustments, you can get quite close to the vintage scheme you're used to, and which I'm used to, so no complaining. There's a lot of fighting going to happen in this game, and it is quite fun (not to mention violent), albeit repetitive, and easy since enemies do not have elemental immunities. Level farming to some extent is possible this time around as enemies occasionally respawn, but there are even less true random encounters on the map than in the first game (I was ambushed twice during my first playthrough), so taking on the huge number of sidequests is still your primary source of EXP income.

Any killing to be done in the house of the Maker?
I like the new ability tree system. It looks nice and moreover, comprehensible, but it does have something that many will surely perceive as a huge flaw. Each character is able to learn a specific set of abilities (even two characters of the same class might have access to whole different abilities) and use a specific set of weapons. For example, you cannot have a perfect rogue without creating one yourself. Since there are no secondary weapon sets, the weaponry for your two rogue companions is very limited. One carries dual weapons, one carries a bow - and not just any bow, but one single trademark crossbow which upgrades over time; you cannot equip him with regular bows, and as you might have guessed already, the game shoves those regular bows in your face, constantly. You can take on two extra specializations for Hawke, one on Level 7 and another one on Level 14, but you can't assign any new ones for companions; what you see is what you get as far as they're concerned. Reaching friendship status or utter hatred with a character results in that character gaining a special ability that won't cost you any ability points. What's cool is that each character has a whole tree of these special abilities exclusive to them; these special abilities might turn out quite useful in the late hours of the game. Varric actually has two of them; one directly relates to the features of his trademark weapon Bianca, and Marksman improves his general skill with it. Some of my favourite skills and tactics from the first game are cut out completely, such as mages being able to freeze an enemy on the spot and shatter them by trapping them inside Crushing Prison, and the whole Ranger specialization for rogues, probably due to space constraints. There are only three different specializations to choose from for each class, whereas Origins doubled with Awakening had six.

Enchantment and item crafting have been worked on, and on my account, towards a better direction. No longer will you need a shopping list of a million different ingredients and tools to build the simplest trap, nor a particular ability to be able to do it in the first place. You simply need to find the basic resources from the field as the years pass by; some of them are only found during specific acts. Finding one resource, for example deathroot or elfroot, guarantees you a lifelong access to it; all you need to do after that is find a crafting desk or go to the one in your home, and order the item you want. If you have found a sufficient amount of deposits for each crafting resource you need for one item, you can order as many you need or as many as your coin purse allows you to. Excellent. Runes for enchantment are crafted the exact same way; you can buy them from some choice merchants, too. What is a bit annoying is that you cannot simply remove runes from weapons and armour, and each time you replace one, the old one's destroyed.

One last nice subtlety I'd like to mention is that saving the game does not disrupt the action like it annoyingly did in Origins, and the autosave system is a little more reliable. Going for a certain Trophy/Achievement in the game practically demands you to save often, because death may creep up on you by a complete surprise. But...

One of the returning characters has went through
some changes...
...Dragon Age II is really not a hard game at all. If you put your heart into doing those sidequests, no matter how dull they might be, you're going to have everything you need to get on the final boss' ass in 45 hours... which isn't much; it's amazing how far the most standard basics will take you in this game. It took almost an exact 48 hours from me to hack through this sumbitch, and I can safely say I literally ran in circles for at least three hours in succession - mostly because I was desperately trying to override one or two persistent glitches that prevented me from finishing a couple of quests I personally found important for my character. I can safely say that the game's story is out to captivate, though, and you are able to branch it to a total difference on at least two playthroughs. The ending is very rewarding - Dragon Age II is one of the few RPG's that ends in a cliffhanger. One that'll make any fan's palms sweat. Even though the game was a disappointment, I wasted no time in returning to another round of Awakening with another character, and importing the completed save file to another round of Dragon Age II. I'm now halfway through that second round, and I've had a lot of fun playing a completely opposite character. It has been a totally different experience - round two of Origins or Awakening didn't have anything on this game in this sense, they weren't nearly THIS different.

However, while even a third playthrough might feel interesting at first due to the third consistent dialogue option of being sarcastic and the distinct differences in gameplay between the three classes, it should be obvious that at some point the appeal will fade; running around Kirkwall - one city - and the small surrounding areas for hundreds of hours, with dozens of identical pseudo-dungeons to boot, is not my perception of an ideal way to pass time. Luckily, the Trophies/Achievements are better this time around. For example, they don't require you to play each class to a certain level; you only need to reach Kirkwall with a character from each of the three classes, and that won't take more than an accumulative total of perhaps an hour of your time. There's nothing too tricky with the exception of some Trophies related to diplomatic solutions, which I haven't quite figured out yet how to get to. I'll keep pushing on, and by the looks of it, I don't need more than this one more playthrough to nail the plat.

BioWare have always managed to maintain a fine balance between highly immersive RPG gameplay and an incredible story. With Dragon Age II, they succeeded in creating a story and telling it well from all standpoints - even if the graphics aren't exactly top-notch, the cinematics are appealing, especially after the game's stiff, mechanical predecessor. The game feels good to play, too - right up until the point you realize you've seen that one dungeon, docking bay or forest path a dozen times before, only this time a different branch is blocked, the doors that used to be open are now locked, etc.. Mass Effect 2's diversity when it came to unique planets open for exploration, and their unique sidequests which were just as surprising and nice to play as their stories were to follow, is lost somewhere along the Milky Way. Dragon Age II is a very good game, but it fails to meet the standard set by the previous game, not to mention the neighbouring franchise it's partly designed after. However, as I said, calling it the worst BioWare game I've played isn't much of an insult. 

SOUND : 9.0


a.k.a. Dragon Age 2 (working title)

GameRankings: 78.92% (PC), 80.37% (PS3), 77.07% (X360)

BioWare's Brent Knowles - one of the main designers of Dragon Age: Origins - expressed his distaste for Dragon Age II by leaving the company during the game's development. He later commented on the game by saying that it's strong, but lacks many of the things that made the franchise what it is, and a game he didn't personally feel like making.

3 kommenttia:

  1. This is hilarious b/c I JUST posted the first part of my DA2 "review." As well. I swear it wasn't planned. Parts 2 and three of mine will post this week as I finish them.

    The inability to lockpick drove me *insane.* Overall I tend to be in the camp that has all kinds of criticisms for it, but in all honesty I don't think that is b/c it sia bad *game* persay. It's just a bad *sequel.* Had I played DA2 without ever touching DA:O then I would have fiound it far more enjoyable. As a stand alone game it is not phenomenol, but it's not attrocious. As a follow up for DA:O though, it's kindof a black spot that I hope Bioware learn from. I felt that the devs saw what worked in DA:O, and then threw all that out the window in favor of flashiness and pizazz. When playing I was evnetually able to make myself look at it as a stand-alone, and that is when I began to enjoy it. I would even like to go back and play as a male Hawke to see how it is different dialogue wise. In doing so though, I would just have to pretend it wasn't part of the Dragon Age saga and that DA:O had never existed.

    I will say, however, that the mage was worlds of fun to play in DA2. I generally felt that special effects in-game were over done, but those over the top effects were perfect for magickal spells. In DA2, my mage actually felt like she was powerful.

  2. I'm actually using a female mage on my second playthrough, it has been fun - gameplay-wise. The dialogue's fun to play around with, too. For some "odd reason", though, I'm really bored of the unavoidable quests and I haven't been able to play the game for more than an hour at a time.

  3. I suspect you could just be playing the two characters too close together. since DA2 is in no way as deep as DA:O, it's not like there are deeper layers of the story to uncover with multiple playthroughs - there are just marginally different experiences. I mean I want to replay as a male, but I suspect that I would feel the same way since only some of the dialogue an romance choices would be different.